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L IRISH 14 SAINTS 19 Collins earns praise after Aviva Premiership debut

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The Saints Academy winger came into the starting line-up for the first time in the Round 7 trip to London Irish, and while he didn't get an opportunity to show his full blistering pace the 19-year-old didn't look out of place either.

Playing up against England international Topsy Ojo, Collins demonstrated his dancing feet on a couple of occasions, slotted into the defensive patterns and was solid under the high ball.

"It was good to see some of the new boys come in," said George Pisi. "He's a class player, a good talent, and it's good for him to have a crack. You're going to see a lot of him in the future. So watch out!

"We train week in and week out together, and whoever's out or whoever's in players will slot in quite well. With Tom Collins and James Wilson at the back we still want to play."

With Jamie Elliott ruled out with an injury, Jim Mallinder said that there had been no issue with blooding another product of the Saints Academy given what he had done in the Aviva 'A' League so far this season.

"It's a shame Tom didn't get any long runs today," Mallinder told BBC Radio Northampton. "But we've seen in the Wanderers and in training every week what he can do. He had a couple of good little darts, and overall he played pretty well. He made his tackles, caught a few high balls, and for a first game at a difficult place to play he made a very promising debut."

With Bath winning at Worcester on Friday night the pressure was on Saints to maintain their own winning form to return to second place in the Aviva Premiership table.

However while both Mallinder and Pisi took the points, they also acknowledged that the performance was far from that of the previous week's win over Saracens, paying credit to the way London Irish played themselves.

"We didn't get much ball to play with," Pisi said, "but that's credit to London Irish in shutting our mauls down and shutting us down. That's something we can work on and we'll take the win.

"It's always good to win away."

"Today's game was all about winning," Mallinder added. "We wanted to play better than we did, but a lot of credit to London Irish. They played well, put us under a lot of pressure and defended really well. They slowed down our ball, so we didn't get any momentum, and then in the second half they took the game to us.

"So we're pleased that we've got the win."

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