Mallinder praises centurion Clarke

Director of rugby Jim Mallinder today praised Jon Clarke, who when he runs out with the Saints for tomorrow’s Guinness Premiership Round 10 match against Bath will reach one hundred appearances for the Northampton Saints first team.

Clarke has been a virtual ever-present this season, scoring four tries in his 11 appearances in all competitions, and Mallinder says that the big centre has been playing well.

“Jon always offers us something in attack and defence,” he said today. “He carries the ball well over the gain line and has good awareness of those players around him. But he is a good tackler as well and has regularly won turnover ball for us at crucial times. I congratulate him on reaching one hundred appearances for the Saints, which is a superb achievement for any player.”

Mallinder also warned that Bath should be treated with respect.

“There is nothing as dangerous as a team who have received criticism and Bath’s players will no doubt be looking to prove their critics wrong tomorrow afternoon with a good performance here at Franklin’s Gardens,” he said.

“Bath like to keep the ball in hand and don’t kick it away that often. This means we will have to make the most of our opportunities and control the play when we get the ball ourselves.

“We will also have to show the same kind of defence that denied Newcastle any scoring opportunities in the second half at Kingston Park. We certainly cannot return to our defensive display against Harlequins, where we were sloppy in conceding two tries.”

Northampton Saints team

15 Ben Foden , 14 Chris Ashton, 13 Jon Clarke, 12 James Downey, 11 Joe Ansbro, 10 Shane Geraghty, 9 Lee Dickson, 1 Soane Tonga’uiha, 2 Dylan Hartley (capt), 3 Euan Murray, 4 Courtney Lawes, 5 Juandre Kruger, 6 Phil Dowson, 7 Neil Best, 8 Roger Wilson

Replacements, 16 Brett Sharman, 17 Santiago Bonorino, 18 Brian Mujati, 19 Christian Day, 20 Scott Gray, 21 Alan Dickens, 22 Stephen Myler, 23 Chris Mayor

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