The Saints went into Saturday’s game against London Welsh knowing that a bonus point win would secure a top place finish in the Aviva Premiership table for the first time in the club’s history.
And by the time that the hour had come there was not just a healthy lead, but the four tries needed, too, and when the final whistle came the capacity Franklin’s Gardens crowd rose to acclaim the achievement.
However in this era of Grand Finals finishing first is no guarantee of silverware, and Mallinder told SaintsTV that there was still plenty to do if the Saints are to retain their title.
“It’s brilliant for the first time ever that we’ve come top, and that we’ve guaranteed a home semi-final,” he said. “We’re pleased with that statistic, but we’re also mindful that it doesn’t mean too much in terms of retaining the Premiership title.
“We’ve got a lot of hard work still to do.”
The Exiles came to Franklin’s Gardens without a win to their name, but they frustrated the Saints for long periods despite play being camped in the visitors’ half for most of the first half.
Nevertheless two tries for Lee Dickson and Travis Perkins man of the match Ahsee Tuala added to seven points from Stephen Myler to open up a 17-0 half-time lead.
Four more tries came in the second half, with Dickson finishing off a superb move for his second, Luther Burrell turning on the power for a brace and Jamie Elliott grabbing try number six in the left corner.
“We were pleased with the performance,” Mallinder added. “London Welsh made us work hard for it, and a lot of credit to them.
“We were playing into a strong wind in the first half, and we thought that if we stayed patient and kept the ball in hand the space would open up in the second half and the tries would come.”