Saints never lost faith
Sun, 12 May 2013 19:26
People said we can't beat a top four side
Northampton Saints Director of Rugby Jim Mallinder admitted his side had never lost self-belief as they finally ended their Premiership play-off hoodoo in upsetting Saracens 27-13.
After five semifinal defeats in the play-offs, including three in the last three years, Saints got over the hump in dramatic style at Allianz Park on Sunday.
Brian Mujati, Jamie Elliott and GJ van Velze all crossed the whitewash for the visitors and while Saracens, the table toppers in the regular season, threatened a comeback it was too little too late.
And after finally guiding his side to Twickenham for an Premiership Final, Mallinder insisted he had never lost the faith that his side had what it takes to beat off their top-of-the-table rivals.
"We heard people talking that we cannot beat a top four side but that record has got to go at some stage and fortunately it has gone this afternoon," he said.
"We were well beaten by Leicester the other week and we held our hands up but in some of the other matches against the top three we have been very close.
"Saracens against Milton Keynes is a very good example so we know we are a good side and that it is close.
"Sometimes it's just about getting that little bit of detail right, plus matching side's with that focus and that intensity.
"Without a doubt in these top games you need to have composure and there were always going to be times when you are going to be struggling.
"But we did not help ourselves with some of our decision making in that second half."
"We know that Leicester are a great side, they were very impressive yesterday but if we turn up with our support then we have got a good chance."
Meanwhile for Saracens head coach Mark McCall it was very much a case of holding his hands up and admitting defeat to the better side on the day.
Duncan Taylor's try and two penalties from Owen Farrell threatened a comeback in the second period but by then the damage was done and McCall knew it.
"We were really poor in the first half, credit to Northampton because I thought that they were outstanding and forced us to make a lot of mistakes, particularly in that first half," he said.
"We did our best in the second half but ultimately it was not good enough.
"Certainly they were extremely physical and forced us into a lot of errors, but on top of that we made some poor choices in the first half.
"We showed in patches in the second half that we were capable of putting them under some pressure but by then it was a mountain to climb.
"It feels terrible but we have done a lot of good things this year at the club, we have won a lot of matches and progressed and grown as a squad.
"But it is disappointing that on the big day we did not give up our best.
"Fair play to Northampton though, they have been disappointed in semi-finals for three years in a row and for Jim and Dorian it's a great achievement to get to their first final."
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