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Saints hopeful over England duo

Northampton director of rugby Jim Mallinder is hopeful injuries suffered by England stars Courtney Lawes and Chris Ashton in the 27-16 defeat at Leicester are not too serious.

Lawes and Ashton picked up their injuries during the first half and Saints' injury woes did not end there with Shane Geraghty suffering a suspected fractured eye socket.

On the injuries to Lawes and Ashton, Mallinder said: "Lawes has a knee injury, Ashton a quad. Both played on for a time with their injuries. They are tough lads and I am hoping that the injuries are not too serious. Geraghty's injury is more serious. He may have fractured his eye socket."

England coach Martin Johnson will join Mallinder in hoping Lawes and Ashton can make a speedy recovery with the Six Nations Championship looming large.

Mallinder was in no mood to use Saints' injury problems as an excuse for defeat.

"To lose two of our England men was not the best but I am not blaming that for the result," he said.

"Leicester played better than us. They have the biggest and strong back line and I was impressed with them.

"It was a very physical game. They put us under pressure in the lineout and we should have played with greater tempo. It's a very difficult place to come and play. The crowd get behind them and it does have an effect on referees."

Leicester's win took them six points clear at the top of the Premiership and Tigers director of rugby Richard Cockerill felt winning the lineout battle had been crucial.

He said: "It was a great win for us. I thought it was a great battle between two good sides especially in the set-piece. They probably had the better of the scrum but we nicked a fair amount of their lineout ball. We deserved our win."


From Belfast Telegraph