Mallinder praises his ‘learning’ Northampton side

Northampton Saints director of rugby Jim Mallinder believes his side are “learning and improving”, but isn’t taking anything for granted despite four straight wins that have put his team well in control at the top of Pool 1.


Having ground out a 23-19 victory over Cardiff Blues at the Cardiff City Stadium, ending a run of 11 consecutive home Pool victories for the Blues, Mallinder’s men are within touching distance of a sixth quarter-final appearance.


Saints, who are six points clear at the top of the English Premiership, will be at home in Round 5 against Edinburgh before travelling to face Castres Olympique in the last round.


“We’ve got two games left to play and we’ve got to face two good teams. Edinburgh will keep playing to the end and then we might have to go to Castres with a lot at stake,” said Mallinder.


“They are both going to be very difficult matches, but this season we have talked about winning the big games and we have done that. Last season we won our three home Pool games, but lost the two big ones in Munster and Perpignan.


“This win shows we can compete with good teams like the Blues and that we have got great character. We are learning and we are improving,” he told ERCRugby.


“You always want more from your team and in the first-half we didn’t look after the ball well enough and our kicking game was poor. It was physical, intimidating and quite confrontational at times – just as expected.


“We were put under pressure in the first half, when the Blues dominated, and we were lucky to go into the break at 9-9. In fact, that was the most pressure we have been put under all season.


“But I was pleased with the way we came out in the second half and the pack got on top.”

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