Jim Mallinder keeps faith in Northampton Saints to turn around Racing defeat

Northampton Saints director of rugby Jim Mallinder is keeping faith in his side’s ability to turn around their 33-3 defeat in Paris and beat Racing 92 in their return Champions Cup clash.
Jim Mallinder keeps faith in Northampton Saints to turn around Racing defeat

Mallinder is banking on the ‘Franklin’s Gardens Factor’ playing its part in a Saints revival as they seek their third win in four games in Pool 3 to stay on quarter-final course.

“One week you can suffer a hammering and then come back a week on and win the game. We will have the crowd behind us and we need to be positive and take them on,” said Mallinder.

“It was a difficult day at the office last weekend and we didn’t expect to come back with a 33-3 scoreline against us. We looked at the game and didn’t think that score was a reflection of how the game went. We didn’t start well, but we were getting back into it by the end of the first half. We could have scored a try, then we gave away an interception and then Luther Burrell could have had a try. We could have gone into half-time ahead, but we didn’t. That meant chasing the game.”

Big spending Racing 92 had World Cup winner Dan Carter joining 99-times capped Mike Phillips at half-back and they orchestrated an all-round team performance that enabled the Top 14 outfit to score five tries. But Mallinder dismissed claims that Saints’ underestimated their hosts, who also did a double over their English Premiership rivals last season, including a 32-6 win at Franklin’s Gardens.

Dan Carter is tackled playing against Northampton last weekend
Dan Carter is tackled playing against Northampton last weekend

“We didn’t underestimate them. They have some quality coaches and they are gelling together an international team - they had two international second rows who didn’t even make their matchday 23,” said Mallinder.

“They played very well and have put a focus on the Champions Cup. Traditionally, French sides haven’t bothered about going away and winning, especially in Europe, but we have seen over the last year or two that they do now travel and give it a real go.

“But we can’t worry too much about Racing. We know a lot about their players and their style. They are a quality team, but so are we. Everybody is capable of beating anyone else and if you don’t turn up in the right frame of mind you will get beaten.”

Dylan Hartley has emerged as favourite to lead England under Eddie Jones in a change that would mark the end of Chris Robshaw’s captaincy.

Dylan Hartley
Dylan Hartley

Northampton star Hartley has a dismal disciplinary record that totals 54 weeks of suspensions for a range of offences including gouging, biting and head-butting He was ejected from the training squad announced for this autumn’s World Cup because of his most recent transgression.

It is understood, however, that Jones admires his abrasiveness and feels that by selecting him as skipper, he would set the tone for a forward pack that the new head coach would like to rediscover its hard edge.

NORTHAMPTON SAINTS:

B Foden, Ah See Tuala, G Pisi, L Burrell, G North, S Myler, L Dickson; A Waller, M Haywood, K Brookes, C Lawes, V Matfield, J Gibson, T Harrison, S Dickinson.

Replacements:

M Williams, E Waller, P Hill, C Day, M Paterson, K Fotuali’i, JJ Hanrahan, J Elliott.

RACING 92:

B Dulin; J Rokocoko, C Laulala, H Chavancy, J Imhoff; D Carter, M Phillips; E Ben Arous, D Szarzewski, B Tameifuna, L Charteris, F van der Merwe, W Lauret, Y Nyanga, C Masoe.

Replacements:

C Chat, J Brugnaut, C Gomes Sa, M Carizza, A Claassen, M Machenaud, J Goosen, M Andreu.

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