After last night’s thriller of a European Rugby Champions Cup opener at Franklin’s Gardens, where a physical Montpellier Hèrault Rugby side pushed Saints right to the limit, Jim Mallinder was delighted with the way his side fronted up to their French visitors.
“It was a big moment, wasn’t it?” Mallinder said about Stephen Myler’s penalty kick, which sealed the win for Saints in the last play of the game yesterday.
“It was an exciting game; I think it went forwards and backwards and as the end either side could have won.
“But Stephen sunk that kick; he’s taken some real pressurised kicks a number of times over his career and I was always pretty confident he was going to stick it through.”
Mallinder said Saints were always prepared for a hugely physical battle and the Director of Rugby was pleased with the way the home team held out against a strong pack.
“We knew they’d come, they’d maul, they’d scrum, they’d come round the corner and try to really carry heavy but I was absolutely delighted with the way we responded.
“Our tackling was good, particularly close to the line, with some real bodies on the line work and that’s very, very pleasing.”
After a few tough tests in the Aviva Premiership have seen Saints come close but not get the win in the last few weeks, Mallinder commented on how important it was for the team to get their European campaign off to the best start with a win.
“I think the win was very, very important. The game is all about winning and it’s as simple as that; if you’re not winning then the team and everyone associated with it comes under pressure.
“I know we’ve not had the best of starts but we’ve talked about this campaign and getting back to winning ways and we’ve done that which is really, really pleasing and hopefully we can continue that next week.”
As Saints head to Castres next weekend and hope to back up yesterday’s performance in France, Mallinder says they’re going to need to play their best brand of rugby to come away with a win.
“They’re a good side and they’ve been playing well. We watched the game, over the last week or so, where they played Montpellier. They’re a good side with some really good players and we’re going to have to be at our very best to beat them.”