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Mallinder wary of wounded Sarries

Northampton's impressive march towards a possible home tie in the Aviva Premiership play-offs will come under threat when they visit reigning league champions Saracens on Sunday.

Saints, having lost only one of their last six Premiership games, now stand just four points behind second-placed Saracens, and victory for Northampton at Vicarage Road would mean an uncharacteristic third successive league loss for their hosts following defeats against Leicester and Worcester.

"We are feeling positive about Sunday's game, but we know it is going to be a hard challenge for us," Saints rugby director Jim Mallinder said.

He added: "Saracens' last two results have been very close, and they are still a good side.

"They've got a lot of quality players in their squad and also some players coming back from international duty, so it will be a tough game.

"We think we are good enough to win, but we will have to play better than we did last week (Saints beat London Irish) against a team which plays very effectively.

"We will have to stop their momentum and make sure that we do the right things in the right areas.

"We will certainly have to cut out the little errors which at this level can easily lead to five or seven points, but we have spoken about that during the week."

Fly-half Charlie Hodgson, who started England's opening two RBS 6 Nations games this season before a finger injury sidelined him against Wales last weekend, returns to club duty.

Lock Steve Borthwick is back from injury to skipper Saracens, with a powerful replacements' bench including Matt Stevens, John Smit, Hugh Vyvyan, Neil de Kock and Joel Tomkins.


From Belfast Telegraph