Saints inspired by Wigan's FA Cup triumph
May 12, 2013
Samu Manoa: 'Everybody played their part in the win'%]
Northampton Saints boss Jim Mallinder has revealed Wigan's shock FA Cup final victory over Manchester City inspired his side to a similarly stunning upset of Saracens in their Aviva Premiership semi-final clash on Sunday.
Mallinder's side booked a title showdown with east midlands rivals Leicester Tigers with a superb 27-13 victory at Allianz Park. Few appeared to give Saints a chance of victory having lost their five previous semi-final appearances and having trailed Saracens by 12 points in the league table at the end of the regular season but Mallinder insists his side were full of belief coming into the game.
Asked about the inspiration he drew from Wigan's FA Cup win, Mallinder said: "They (Saracens) finished first and we were fourth. They were unbeaten here and we hadn't beaten them all season. We hadn't beaten a top three team and they clearly were the favourites today.
"But the favourites don't always win. I had a number of people reminding me of that after the Wigan-Manchester City game yesterday. We have had an up and down season. We have come in for a great deal of criticism along the way, a lot of that quite rightly.
"We have not beaten a top three team all season. We have known that. We have been reminded so many times. The players have responded. They have known they are good enough."
Northampton memorably threw a similarly-commanding position away against Leinster in the Heineken Cup final two years ago - a fact that Mallinder was all too aware of but he refused to mention it to his players at half-time when his side led 17-0.
But flanker Tom Wood revealed it had been a key second-half motivator. "We talked about that at half-time, that 'we have been in this position before and let it slip so it was a huge motivation and it was on our minds," Wood said.
Mark McCall: "Saints were very physical"%]
"We knew the next score was going to be crucial. We knew there would be a reaction and we did let them into the game a little bit. But we dug in. We were under enormous pressure on our line at times, our lineout defence was good, our maul defence was good and we hung in there."
Saracens director of rugby Mark McCall said: "It is a massive disappointment. We gave ourselves a mountain to climb at half-time. Northampton put us under a lot of pressure especially in that first half and we made a lot mistakes.
"Northampton were very, very good today, extremely physical and their defence was outstanding. We showed in patched in the second half what we were capable of and we gave it a real go but the first half was very un-Saracens like."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.