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Mallinder allays injury worries

Northampton boss Jim Mallinder has allayed any injury fears surrounding England forwards Alex Corbisiero, Courtney Lawes and Tom Wood following his team's 31-24 Aviva Premiership victory over Bath.

Prop Corbisiero, who has an endured an injury-plagued career, went off during the second half at Franklin's Gardens, while neither lock Lawes nor flanker Wood started.

"Alex took a bang to his shoulder. I don't think it is anything worse than that," Mallinder said.

"Courtney and Tom trained yesterday at the team run and they just reacted to that. I don't think they are far off (from playing).

"There are no major concerns. We have generally got a fit squad.

"Tom has got a bit of a sore back and Courtney a sore shoulder. They are improving and hopefully with an extra week they will be fit to play down at London Irish next Saturday."

Reigning Premiership champions Northampton ended Bath's 100 per cent league record this season after an intense battle.

An early penalty try and touchdown by flanker Calum Clark put Saints in the driving seat before second-half touchdowns from lock Christian Day and centre George Pisi sealed a bonus point win.

Fly-half Stephen Myler converted all four tries and kicked a penalty, but Bath - 45-0 conquerors of Leicester last weekend - did not go quietly as they tries by prop David Wilson, wing Olly Woodburn and substitute front-row forward Nick Auterac, with George Ford booting a penalty and three conversions.

Bath were brought down to earth following their points blitz at Tigers' expense, but Northampton still had to ensure a late scare as scores during the final quarter from Woodburn and Auterac kept Bath in touch and also clinched a losing bonus point.

And the visitors almost delivered a fourth try with just two minutes remaining, driving over Northampton's line, but television match official Rowan Kitt ruled the ball had not been grounded after Saints skipper Dylan Hartley appeared to get his body in the way of an attempted Bath score.

"When you score four tries agianst Bath, that is good going," Mallinder added.

"Where I was disappointed was that we let them back into the game and that is an area we probably need to sharpen up on.

"Bath are a very good team. We were probably fortunate in the end that Dylan Hartley got under that last maul.

"We worked our way into a good lead, then we probably switched off a little bit. We defended as individuals and a team like Bath are going to take those opportunities.

"Dylan was key at the end. I thought overall he had a really good game. His set-piece play was very good."

England hooker Hartley refused to be drawn into any early-season talk about the Premiership title race.

"I see everyone as genuine contenders," Hartley said.

"I don't like people talking about it three or four games into the season. It's too early. No results can define someone's season at this stage.

"It is a long season, and you have got to be respectful of everyone. Let's talk about contenders in the new year. That's when it starts developing.

"We watched the Bath game last week, but I don't think you can look too far into it. Sometimes you have a bad day at the office. I can guarantee you that Saints this season will have a game when everything will go wrong."

Bath head coach Mike Ford added: "It was a very tough first half.

"We had Luke Arscott sin-binned early on and they got 14 points, which was a tough place to come back from.

"We dominated the last 25 minutes. We were over the line at the end, but it was our fault. We should have put the ball down earlier.

"Once we got into the game, we looked dangerous. We are getting there and the last 25 minutes showed what a good side we are going to be."


From Belfast Telegraph