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.
Paul Eddison explains how the French sold English clubs down the river and why their domestic game will go from strength to strength
'Nothing can prepare you for the noise of the Millennium Stadium though, you just can't hear anything." Tom Hamilton talks to Cory Allen
Following a weekend where Wales suffered more heartbreak against Australia and the Aviva Premiership showed its class, the Monday Maul looks back at some of the key talking points
"Every game I want to win, I want to be successful. I want to play for England and I want to win the World Cup." Tom Hamilton talks to Danny Care