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Jim Mallinder backs Northampton Saints to bounce back

Jim Mallinder insists Northampton can turn last week's 30-point thumping on its head and dismiss Racing 92 in Friday's Franklin's Gardens Champions Cup rematch.

Rugby director Mallinder believes Northampton will be unfazed by last weekend's comprehensive 33-3 loss to Racing in Paris when the two teams meet again in the east Midlands.

New Zealand World Cup-winner Dan Carter pulled the strings on Racing's hefty victory last weekend, but the Saints remain determined to prove their loss a mere blip in their quest for quarter-final qualification.

Dylan Hartley is still not cleared to return to action due to lingering concussion symptoms, but Courtney Lawes starts again, this time at lock for Friday night's Pool Three clash.

"One week you can suffer a hammering and then come back a week on and win the game. We will have the crowd behind us and we need to be positive and take them on," said Mallinder.

"It was a difficult day at the office last weekend and we didn't expect to come back with a 33-3 scoreline against us. We looked at the game and didn't think that score was a reflection of how the game went.

"We didn't start well, but we were getting back into it by the end of the first half. We could have scored a try, then we gave away an interception and then Luther Burrell could have had a try.

"We could have gone into half-time ahead, but we didn't. That meant we were chasing the game."

Racing pulled off a damaging European double over Saints last season, winning 32-6 at Franklin's Gardens.

Mallinder still believes his charges have what it takes to stop history repeating itself, despite the portents starting to point towards the opposite.

"We didn't underestimate them last week. They have some quality coaches and they are gelling together an international team - they had two international second rows who didn't even make their matchday 23." said Mallinder.

"They played very well and they have put a focus on the Champions Cup. Traditionally, French sides haven't bothered about going away and winning, especially in Europe, but we have seen over the last year or two that they do now travel and give it a real go.

"But we can't worry too much about Racing. We know a lot about their players and their style. They are a quality team, but so are we."


From Belfast Telegraph