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Heineken Cup Pool 1: George North targets five points against Castres

Last updated: 12th January 2014  

Heineken Cup Pool 1: George North targets five points against Castres

George North: scored a superb 70-metre breakaway try

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George North insists that Northampton will go "flat out" in their pursuit of an unlikely Heineken Cup quarter-final place.

The Saints need a bonus point victory over Franklin's Gardens visitors Castres next Friday night, and have to hope that Pool One leaders Leinster collect nothing in Dublin against Ospreys.

Northampton could still progress as one of two best runners-up if they topple Castres, but that is an improbable scenario, given the remaining fixtures in other groups.

Wales wing North scored a superb 70-metre breakaway try as Saints saw off the Ospreys 29-17 in Swansea, yet Leinster's away win against Castres on Sunday quickly brought them back down to earth.

"From our point of view, we've got one game left and we are going to go flat out and try to get five points," North said.

"It has been a tough group for us to get back into after a couple of early losses, and it is now win or nothing for us against Castres. We've still got a chance of making it, and we will go hard until the end.

"The first-half was quite frustrating today. It was quite a slow game, and we needed to bump the pace up to how we wanted to play. I had a bit of space and time for the try, so it was happy days."

Northampton rugby director Jim Mallinder paid tribute to North's game-breaking ability, with the Welshman being followed over Ospreys' line by fellow try-scorers George Pisi and Glenn Dickson.

"It was a quality try by George," said Mallinder. "He is really settling in to the way we want to play. People say he had a slow start with us, but he did some brilliant things early on in the season.

"He's a quality player. I know he is young, but he is determined to improve and work hard at his game, which is what he's doing. He is playing for a good club, he's playing for Wales, and he is happy."

Reflecting on the result, Mallinder added: "We are playing quite well at the moment, but tinged with a little bit of disappointment that we didn't go on and get the fourth try and a bonus point.

"The quality of the Heineken Cup is there are six tough pool games, and you have got to be accurate in all six.

"If you look at Leinster, to win at Castres, Ospreys and Franklin's Gardens, they've deserved to do well in the group. We need that consistency in our performances."

Wood injury

Mallinder, meanwhile, allayed any early injury fears surrounding Saints' England flanker Tom Wood, who went off 10 minutes from time.

"I think he has just got a knock to his knee," Mallinder said. "I don't think we are too concerned. He is icing it up."

Ospreys head coach Steve Tandy was left to reflect on a frustrating Heineken campaign for his team, although he refused to blame Welsh rugby's ongoing volatile political climate as a factor behind their pool stage elimination.

"It is not a great situation. It doesn't get resolved, it is always getting put back, but it is a side issue, it is not an excuse for us," Tandy said.

"When we go back over the Heineken campaign, we know in this tournament that if you don't take your opportunities then there are massive shifts in games.

"The endeavour and effort was there right across the board. There is a lot of good in our game, but just little pointers where we take our foot off the gas.

"We looked half-decent at times when we had the ball, but in these environments and these games if you switch off for a second, it's curtains."

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Forthcoming European Rugby Champions Cup Fixtures
TimeFixture
European Rugby Champions Cup
Friday 5th December
European Rugby Champions Cup
19:45Montpellier vs Bath
Saturday 6th December
13:00Sale vs Saracens
17:30Munster vs Clermont Auvergne
19:45Ulster vs Scarlets
13:00Benetton Treviso vs Northampton
15:15Ospreys vs Racing Metro 92
Sunday 7th December
13:00Castres vs Wasps
15:15Harlequins vs Leinster
17:30Leicester vs Toulon
15:15Toulouse vs Glasgow
Friday 12th December
19:45Bath vs Montpellier
Saturday 13th December
17:15Saracens vs Sale
19:45Leinster vs Harlequins
15:15Toulon vs Leicester
13:00Glasgow vs Toulouse
15:15Northampton vs Benetton Treviso
17:15Racing Metro 92 vs Ospreys
Sunday 14th December
15:15Clermont Auvergne vs Munster
13:00Wasps vs Castres
17:15Scarlets vs Ulster
Saturday 17th January
TBCSaracens vs Munster
TBCSale vs Clermont Auvergne
TBCHarlequins vs Wasps
TBCLeinster vs Castres
TBCLeicester vs Scarlets

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