Mallinder hails Saints' spirit
November 26, 2011
Northampton scrum-half Lee Dickson helped himself to a try during the game at Franklin's Gardens © Getty Images
Northampton Saints boss Jim Mallinder hailed his side's character after they bounced back from successive Heineken Cup defeats with a stirring 30-8 demolition of Saracens in a surprisingly one-sided Aviva Premiership clash at Franklin's Gardens.
After suffering heartbreak against Munster in Limerick a fortnight ago, the Saints were left shellshocked following a surprise loss at home to the Scarlets which has left their European hopes hanging by a thread.
However, they showed no signs of a Heineken Cup hangover in dismantling Sarries on Saturday, Northampton blowing the reigning Aviva Premiership champions away during a wonderful first-half display which featured tries from Lee Dickson, George Pisi and Phil Dowson, and 12 points from the boot of Ryan Lamb.
The hosts managed just another penalty from Lamb in the second half and coughed up a try to Ernst Joubert right at the death but the concession of a late try could not take the shine off what was a scintillating performance from Northampton.
"After last week's defeat we got a good reaction, the first half in particular," Mallinder said. "We had a good set-piece, took our opportunities and our defence was excellent.
"I told them in the week, 'Let's not panic, we are on a good run in the league and although we gifted the Scarlets four tries last week we are not a million miles off'.
"Saracens was a good game to play today as they have a fantastic away record and it was just what we needed."
Unsurprisingly, Mallinder, who led Northampton to the final of last year's Heineken Cup, was quizzed on the vacant England job but he insisted that he is happy at Franklin's Gardens.
"I love it here, it's a fantastic team and getting better," he said. "It would have to be a big offer to get me away from here. I'm 45 but at some stage in my career I would love to coach England, but I have heard nothing yet."
Meanwhile, Saracens coach Mark McCall admitted that his side had left themselves with too much to do after a woeful first-half display.
"I'm very disappointed," the former Ulster coach said. "Everything that could go wrong in the first half went wrong. For the first try we missed three or four tackles on Ben Foden and they went away and scored. We did not react to that setback and you can't do that against a side as good as Northampton.
"The game was done and dusted by half-time but we regrouped well and did well to deprive them of a bonus point. We could have easily folded."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
He teed up Obolensky's try, fought in Burma and played cricket for Warwickshire - we Rewind to look at the story of Peter Cranmer
With the World Cup just a year away, Tom Hamilton picks out five matches to ensure you have tickets for
Ahead of November's USA-All Blacks match, America's ESPN Magazine explains rugby to its readers who may not be familiar with the game
Tom Hamilton talks to World Cup-winning captain John Smit about life after rugby, his fears over the South African exodus and the World Cup