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Early impact impresses Mallinder

Northampton boss Jim Mallinder was thrilled with his side's first half display as the Saints stormed Allianz Park to record a 31-24 victory.

A James Wilson brace and a further score from Phil Dowson helped the visitors to a 25-8 half-time lead that left Saracens stunned.

"Tactically we got it right in that first half," said Mallinder, whose team moved to the top of the Aviva Premiership as a result.

"This is always a difficult place to come and play and the conditions were very poor. We got our tactics right and got a good lead."

Northampton had a point to prove after their 24-18 defeat to Exeter at Franklin's Gardens last Friday and Mallinder was proud of the way his team bounced back.

"We wanted to take them on for the full 80 minutes," Mallinder added. "We know we can play on this surface.

"We know that Sarries play a very good kicking game and try to pin you down and then they take their opportunities.

"We also saw the kind of game that Saracens can play when they're chasing the game and they can move the ball. They're equally dangerous at that.

"You've got to get your tactics right against a team like Saracens and we just about did that today."

Meanwhile, Saracens director of rugby Mark McCall bemoaned his side's awful start as the Londoners crashed to only their second Premiership defeat of the season.

"The contrast between the two halves was too big," said McCall. "The first 25 minutes from us was unbelievably disappointing.

"I think we were second best in almost every area - but in particular the scrum and I think we allowed what happened in the scrum during that 25-minute period to drain us of energy across the board.

"We weren't sharp enough. We weren't urgent enough and lacked intensity in nearly everything that we did during that 25-minute period. Saints were 25-3 up and we gave ourselves a mountain to climb.

"Clearly we were much better in the second half and much more like ourselves - but the first half was very poor.

"I'm glad we showed our true colours in the second half. We looked like a team who had a bit of edge and intensity in what we did.

McCall replaced struggling tighthead Juan Figallo with powerful Samoan James Johnston at the break, but the Sarries boss admitted that the scrum was only one of his side's issues.

"He made a difference," said McCall on Johnston's impact. "But their tries didn't come from scrums.

"I know their field position came from scrums but we have to maintain our energy. We must have that urgency and intensity regardless of what's happening in the scrum.

"We felt sorry for ourselves a small bit during that 25-minute period."


From Belfast Telegraph