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SAINTS 25 SARACENS 20 Mallinder hails second half at stadiummk

Travis PerkinsSponsored by Travis Perkins

Saints had to come from behind to overcome the visitors at stadiummk, with the deficit at one point standing at eight points after Chris Wyles’ two early converted tries.

Same Manoa crossed for the Saints, who also had a massive let-off when Billy Vunipola fumbled the ball while crossing unopposed midway through the first half.

But Saints turned up the pressure after the break, with man of the match Stephen Myler nailing four unanswered penalties in 19 minutes, and once the hosts went in front they did not look like losing the contest.

“The second half performance in particular was very good,” Mallinder told BBC Radio Northampton. “I think we came in at half time having played some good rugby, having scored a good try. But there were a couple of our little bits of play, like getting out of our half and the set piece, where they put us under a lot of pressure.

“We were under pressure in the scrum and conceding penalties in the first half. But we got dominance in that area and we found we could put them under pressure. Our lineout didn’t function quite as it normally does, but we got that working in the second half so that we could get on the front foot.

“Our game management was good as well. Our kicking options were very sensible, we went cross field a few times with some good balls in the air.”

The win over Saracens did not just snap a two-game losing streak for the Saints, but also confirmed the club’s place in the Aviva Premiership semi-finals for a sixth straight season. There is still work to be done to guarantee a home tie, two points needed from the final two games, and Mallinder added that it was important to get momentum during the run-in towards the knockout stages of the competition.

“Seasons are always up and down,” he said, “and when you play difficult games like Clermont and Exeter there’s always a chance that you’re going to lose some of those games. But It’s all about finishing well and finishing with momentum and hopefully thats going to kick start us now. We’re in a cracking position now with two games to go and we’ve got a very good chance, if we beat London Welsh, of getting that home semi, which is key.”

stadiummk was basking in the sunshine, and the shirt sleeve weather brought out the sea of black, green and gold among the 27,411 supporters who set a new venue attendance record and turned the Rugby World Cup stadium into a cauldron of noise.

“The support was magnificent,” Mallinder added. “We could really hear the crowd getting behind the team. It was certainly full of Northampton support. This is a brilliant place. We like the facilities, the pitch is very good and we’re very impressed.”

Saints return to Franklin’s Gardens on Saturday, May 9th, for the final home game of the regular season. With a home Aviva Premiership semi-final still up for grabs your backing could make all the difference against London Welsh.

Snap up tickets throughout the weekend at www.tinyurl.com/SAI-WEL-1415 using Print@Home to beat the match day queues and save the admin fees.

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