England stars ride to rescue for Saints
March 25, 2011
Ben Foden was among the England stars to impress for Northampton © Getty Images
Northampton director of rugby Jim Mallinder hailed the impact of his returning England stars after watching his side climb back into the Aviva Premiership play-off places by smashing Wasps 39-3 at Franklin's Gardens.
Ben Foden and Chris Ashton were among the try scorers for the hosts, with Brian Mujati, Stuart Commins and a penalty try completing the scoring. The Saints have now recorded back-to-back wins since ending a run of six straight losses and Mallinder believes today's success was built around the likes of Foden, Ashton, Dylan Hartley and Tom Wood.
"We controlled the game very well and dominated in all parts," he said. "We prefer to play on hard pitches as it was today as we like it fast and open. It makes a big difference having all the international players back plus Lee Dickson.
"Dylan is maturing all the time and has the right credentials to be an England captain. He had a great game in the tight and had a hand in at least two of the tries."
Lock Courtney Lawes, another returning England squad member, admitted having a full squad to choose from had lifted Saints spirits, and is hopeful that he is close to getting back to his best after returning from injury towards the end of the Six Nations.
"It is a big confidence booster having the better players back and playing with a full strength squad I feel I am getting back to form and was a bit disappointed not to get a shout for England in the last few matches and I would have been ready had I been called up," he said.
The result was a second heavy defeat for Wasps at the hands of Northampton after a 37-10 pasting in the reverse fixture and Wasps boss Leo Holden was less than impressed by his side's display, which effectively ends their hopes of a play-off berth.
"We were beaten in all facets of the game. It is very disappointing and something not very likeable to see," he said. "Northampton are a very good side with their full team out and we have to go away and regroup."
Wasps' three-quarter injury problems also increased with Ben Jacobs (hamstring) ruled out on Friday while Dominic Waldouck picked up an injury in the warm up and Steve Kefu departed early. But Holden says it is crucial that heads do not drop.
"It's important that we don't drop our heads and fall away badly we are fielding a strong second team tomorrow night and hopefully some of these players will put themselves into contention for next week," he said.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
The latest Week in Pictures takes in the remarkable events in Brisbane and the first round of the European Rugby Champions Cup
Following Saturday's shock announcement, we look at the highs and the lows of Ewen McKenzie's brief stint as Wallabies coach.
"I think the work I do in defence gets spoken of a little too much as it comes at the expense of what I do in attack." Brad Barritt talks to Tom Hamilton
The European Champions Cup: what's changed and what's new in the revamped competition previously known as the Heineken Cup?