Mallinder welcomes back big guns
October 23, 2011
Ryan Lamb kicked three conversions and a penalty in Northampton's victory in Bridgend © Getty Images
Northampton Saints director of rugby Jim Mallinder was buoyed by the performances of his returning Rugby World Cup stars in Saturday's Anglo-Welsh Cup victory over the Ospreys in Bridgend.
England aces Ben Foden, Chris Ashton, Courtney Lawes and Dylan Hartley all started at the Brewery Field, with the latter scoring two tries as the Saints claimed a bonus point-clinching 32-22 victory, with their other scores coming courtesy of wing Vasily Artemyev and flanker Calum Clark. Fly-half Ryan Lamb kicked 9 points before his replacement, Stephen Myler, slotted a late penalty which denied the home side a losing bonus point.
"It was very tough. I was really impressed with a good Ospreys side," Mallinder said. "They made life very difficult for us. We were very pleased to come away with the win and the bonus point.
"They got numbers at the breakdown and disrupted our ball. They got penalties and kicked their goals, and that put us under pressure. It wasn't ideal going into half-time 19-10 down but we always had confidence.
"Some of these players we haven't seen for three or four months so it was important to get them back."
Despite the defeat, stand-in Ospreys coach Steve Tandy was pleased with his side's display against a strong Saints side, particularly in light of the fact that the region had again been forced to make do without their international contingent given Wales' involvement in the World Cup third-place play-off.
"Obviously we're disappointed with the result but, all in all, there were some really top performances out there," he said. "We showed a lot of courage, effort and a lot of good skills. At times we really did front up. We conceded a couple of tries which is something we'll look back on as something we wouldn't like to concede.
"It's been a great tournament for us and we've found a lot about our players. It's a great learning experience. When we saw the Northampton team we were all really pleased to see those names coming down to Bridgend. To have those names coming to Bridgend and our boys getting that support from Bridgend was fantastic."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
"At the crux of this England team is a lack of fear, they are not afraid to throw playbooks out of the window." Tom Hamilton reports from Twickenham
"These little deft touches, the nuances O'Driscoll has perfected are what Ireland will miss most." Tom Hamilton on Brian O'Driscoll's final Test in Dublin
After Brian O'Driscoll's emotional final Ireland appearance on home soil, and seeing the Six Nations boil down to a three-horse race, we bring you the Weekend in PIctures
Last year's thrashing at the hands of Wales was not the first time England have fallen to their rivals. Scrum Sevens looks at whether they have bounced back the following year