Saints showing title credentials
Sat, 04 Jan 2014 12:43
Northampton Saints Director of Rugby Jim Mallinder admitted his side were showing their title credentials for all to see after victory over Harlequins took them top of the Premiership.
George North set Northampton on their way with his second try in as many weeks five minutes after half-time before the boot of Stephen Myler and a late Dylan Hartley try made the game safe.
Harlequins lost flyhalf Nick Evans to injury at the break but continued to hammer on the door until the end.
And after completing the double over another member of the top four, Mallinder was quick to underline his side's fine run that has taken them to the top.
"We're delighted we've done the double over Quins and we've beaten Bath and beaten Saracens here," he said.
"It's pleasing [to have done the double over Harlequins] because there was all that chat last year about us not beating teams and it hurt.
"That's good for us. It's a good start to the new year for us. It puts us in a good position going back into Europe but there's a lot of games still to play.
"We've shown we can play in different conditions because it was tricky out there today. It wasn't easy and we've shown we can play in different conditions, play well and be competitive against the top sides.
"We needed it [George North's try]. He was one on one and it was fantastic," Mallinder said.
"It was against young [Charlie] Walker, who is a talented player, but George, one on one, you've got to make sure you make a good tackle.
"To see him go in the corner was fantastic.
"The lineout is not easy in those conditions and really you want to go to the front or middle and you don't want to be chucking too many towards your tail and they put us under a bit of pressure there."
Quins knew victory would have taken them up to third in the table but instead they are in danger of slipping out of the top four over the course of the weekend.
However, Conor O'Shea, their director of rugby, claims his side still believe they can beat anyone on their day.
"I thought we brought a real energy and intensity to the game in the first half and we looked set for the second half.
"We didn't have field position and got on the wrong side of the referee for the whole match. The little things within the game went Northampton's way.
"We know where we are now. We've got a massive game next week and 10 games left in Premiership. Six of those are at home and we want to be top four.
"We know on our day we can beat anybody. I'm frustrated by a lot of what happened out there and I'm sure the crowd were as well.
"The conditions were poor and it was a difficult day to get any grip."
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