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Northampton Saints 22-13 Bath, Aviva Premiership
Mixed emotions for Mallinder
ESPNscrum Staff
December 24, 2011
Northampton centre James Downey thunders forward against Bath, Northampton v Bath, Aviva Premiership, Franklin's Gardens, Northampton, England, December 24, 2011
Northampton centre James Downey thunders forward during the game at Franklin's Gardens © Getty Images
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Northampton boss Jim Mallinder admitted that he was frustrated by his side's inability to pick up a bonus point in their 22-13 victory over Bath on Christmas Eve.

The Saints appeared to be cruising towards a resounding win after reaching the interval 22-3 to the good after tries from Phil Dowson, Tom Wood and Jamie Eliott but they lost their way in the second period - as well as two men to the sin bin, James Downey and Manu Samoa - and Mallinder was left lamenting his players' profligacy.

"I'm pleased with the win but frustrated not to pick up a bonus point," Mallinder said. "We were very good in the first half - scoring three tries - and at half-time I told them to do exactly the same, but in the second half we forced it too much. We need to improve in closing out games and need to be more clinical in taking our opportunities."

Bath's defeat was their fourth in succession but director of rugby Sir Ian McGeechan felt that there were some positives for him to take out of the game.

"I'm very pleased with our second-half performance," the former Lions boss said. "We had a poor 20 minutes in the first half when we turned over ball and gave the momentum to Northampton. Winning the second half 10-0 was a good comeback but it was not quite enough, but I couldn't fault our attitude."

McGeechan is hoping that Bath, who are now third from bottom, will take the same fighting spirit into their New Year's Day meeting with London Irish.

"As a group of players they are coming together and we'll see the benefits eventually," he said. "We have three or four players back from injury in the next few weeks and that will give us greater flexibility and more options."

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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