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Mallinder praises ruthless Saints

Northampton boss Jim Mallinder praised "a good professional performance" by his team after they romped to a record European victory against hapless Italians Treviso.

Saints barely broke sweat at Franklin's Gardens as they stayed firmly on course to reach the European Champions Cup quarter-finals with a 67-0 success.

English champions Saints' 11-try haul took them to 15 points in the group, and victories in their final two pool games next month away to the Ospreys and at home against Racing Metro will guarantee a last-eight place.

It was a record European win, smashing a 68-21 success against another Italian side - Overmach Parma - during the 2006-07 season, while Treviso experienced an all-time European low, having lost 71-5 to Wasps during the same season.

"We talked about being clinical and ruthless, and I was pleased with the whole 80 minutes," Saints rugby director Mallinder said.

"We got our set-piece right, we tackled well and scored some cracking tries.

"In the past, we have had Ulster and Leinster as our back-to-back European games, which is really difficult. This time, we have been able to swap our team over a little bit and freshen a few players up."

An early penalty try was followed by a short-range George North touchdown, before scintillating flowing moves led to scores for scrum-half Kahn Fotuali'i and wing Ken Pisi, with two Stephen Myler conversions leaving Pool Five whipping boys Treviso 24 points adrift at half-time.

North, his leg strapped, went off early in the second period, but there was no let-up from Northampton as further tries followed for George Pisi, Ben Foden, two more by Ken Pisi and a 13-minute hat-trick for substitute forward Samu Manoa, while Myler finished with four conversions and full-back James Wilson two.

"George had a dead leg, he just got a bang on his quad. He should be fine," Mallinder added, who paid tribute to man-of-the-match Wilson.

"To have someone as versatile as him (Wilson) is unbelievable. He started at full-back, moved to the wing and then fly-half, and he looked very comfortable.

"He played well, but there were some other magnificent performances as well.

"We didn't get too carried away, we didn't play sevens rugby, we kept our shape and discipline. It was a good professional performance."

And Saints skipper Dylan Hartley said: "Points difference is a big thing for us, so it was crucial we kept a zero on the scoreboard for them.

"We didn't play loosely, we played direct, our set-piece was very effective and we stuck to it. It was a really professional all-round performance.

"We played really good, direct rugby, but we are under no illusions that we are going to have to step it up again next week (against Leicester in the Aviva Premiership).

"The pool is very much alive for us.

"We knew at the start of the campaign that it was there to be won. We have given ourselves a good shot, and the next two games are huge for us in January."


From Belfast Telegraph