Northampton looking up after Premiership win over Worcester
Jim Mallinder is optimistic Northampton can move up the Aviva Premiership after his side saw off Worcester Warriors 24-14 to secure a fifth successive home victory.
The Warriors, who are 11th in the Aviva Premiership, stunned the home fans with a sixth-minute score from full-back Josh Adams, but the Saints bounced back with first-half tries from England flanker Teimana Harrison and hooker Mike Haywood.
Stephen Myler added seven points with the boot to make it 17-7 at the break, and Haywood scored another try before the end to make the points safe.
Haywood's score helped Northampton recover from back-to-back away league defeats to move into the top six, and Mallinder believes their season is very much alive ahead of clashes with Sale Sharks and Leicester Tigers.
"We've gone back into the top six, which is a good place to be, and we've got two massive games ahead of us," said Saints director of rugby Mallinder.
"We go up to Sale next week and then Leicester coming here will be massive with the internationals back.
"If we can get two wins in those two games, you never know.
"The players are all trying. You look in the dressing room and there are some tired bodies. We're working hard."
The top four remains a long way off for Northampton, with an eight-point gap between themselves and Bath and Leicester, who sit fourth and fifth respectively.
Warriors fly-half Ryan Mills, who had added the conversion to Adams' try, missed two crucial penalties that would have given the Warriors a fresh lease of life early in the second half.
Bryce Heem did score with the final play of the game for Worcester, but they were to walk away with no reward for their efforts.
And despite Saints' comfortable win, Worcester director of rugby Gary Gold felt the majority of his side's problems were self-inflicted.
"You lose games of rugby in two ways - you're either beaten by a better team or you create the problems for yourself. Today, we largely created the problems for ourselves," the 49-year-old said.
"We weren't able to execute well enough in the first half to relieve pressure and then we go and give a penalty away to let them back in it.
"It's frustrating because it's the second week in a row we've needed to be more clinical in our execution.
"We've had opportunities and against good rugby teams you need to take those opportunities. Unfortunately, we've haven't done that today.
"There were opportunities out there for us so we're going to have to be very hard on ourselves before next week."