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Mallinder issues Saints challenge

Northampton boss Jim Mallinder has thrown down the gauntlet to his players as they prepare for Saturday's showdown with Aviva Premiership leaders Leicester.

Saints' surprise 16-13 home defeat against Harlequins last weekend - accompanied by Leicester beating Exeter in Devon - took reigning league champions Tigers two points above Mallinder's men.

"We under-performed against Harlequins and there are plenty of players with points to prove this weekend," said Mallinder.

"We will certainly have to play a lot better than last week if we want to return home with something from tomorrow's game.

"Leicester have been getting good results in the past couple of weeks and have threats all over the field that we will have to watch out for.

"But we know that we can play good rugby as well, and everyone has been concentrating on getting back to the levels we expect of ourselves."

Leicester will once again play in front of a 24,000 Welford Road sell-out as they look to consolidate top spot.

But Tigers rugby director Richard Cockerill warned: "Saints are a good side - they have been in good form across the season, they've been the best side in the Premiership without a doubt.

"They lost at home last week, and that will not have gone down well there. They are a good team and they will punish you if you are not at the top of your game.

"We have come through the autumn international and Christmas periods pretty well, and we pride ourselves on our consistency. It will be an interesting battle."


From Belfast Telegraph