Mallinder salutes Saints' character
Northampton director of rugby Jim Mallinder admitted his players had to dig deep in their 32-22 LV= Cup win over the Ospreys at Bridgend.
The Saints trailed 19-10 at half-time before sealing a bonus-point victory with some of their World Cup players - including Dylan Hartley, who scored two tries - coming to the fore.
"It was very tough. I was really impressed with a good Ospreys side. They made life very difficult for us," admitted Mallinder.
"We were very pleased to come away with the win and the bonus point. They got numbers at the breakdown and disrupted our ball. They got penalties and kicked their goals, and that put us under pressure.
"It wasn't ideal going into half-time 19-10 down but we always had confidence. Some of these players we haven't seen for three or four months so it was important to get them back."
Vasily Artemyev and Calum Clark scored the Saints' other tries, with Sonny Parker's interception score adding to 17 points from Matthew Morgan's boot for the home side.
Stand-in Ospreys coach Steve Tandy said he was proud of his young side's display against an experienced Northampton outfit.
"Obviously we're disappointed with the result but, all in all, there were some really top performances out there," he said.
"We showed a lot of courage, effort and a lot of good skills. At times we really did front up. We conceded a couple of tries which is something we'll look back on as something we wouldn't like to concede.
"It's been a great tournament for us and we've found a lot about our players. It's a great learning experience. When we saw the Northampton team we were all really pleased to see those names coming down to Bridgend. To have those names coming to Bridgend and our boys getting that support from Bridgend was fantastic."