Harlequins win would set us up for play-off bid, says Saints boss Mallinder

PERFECT PREPARATION - Jim Mallinder believes a win at Harlequins is important to Saints' play-off chances (pictures by Linda Dawson)
PERFECT PREPARATION - Jim Mallinder believes a win at Harlequins is important to Saints' play-off chances (pictures by Linda Dawson)
1
Have your say

Jim Mallinder says victory at Harlequins on Saturday would stand Saints in good stead for their play-off push.

Northampton head to The Stoop looking to beat one of England’s top three for the first time since they saw off Quins in January 2012.

Mallinder’s men have struggled against the top teams, but will need to beat the best if they are to claim Premiership title glory.

And with a play-off semi-final clash on the horizon - the game will be played on the weekend of May 11/12 - the Saints boss recognises the importance of claiming the scalp of Quins.

“We know it’s going to be hard because we know that this season in particular we have struggled against the top sides, that’s a fact,” said Mallinder. “But we’ve got a chance and that’s all you need. The semi-finals are a one-off.

“What we’ve got to do is look forward to going to Harlequins on the last day of the season and look to get a win there. That would be a good scalp and it would set us up for travelling to wherever we have to go.”

The likelihood is that Saints will travel to either Saracens or Leicester on play-off weekend.

The last time they took on one of the current top two, they were humbled 36-8 by the Tigers at Franklin’s Gardens.

And though Mallinder says that day is still fresh in the memory, he does not see it as a reason why his side can’t do well in the end-of-season shoot-out.

“We’ve had some good results recently,” he said. “We were well beaten against Leicester and we won’t forget that.

“But we’ve seen the top teams lose and semi-finals are one-off games.”

Saints have been labelled one dimensional by some pundits this season, with their forward-orientated game paying dividends against the majority of sides.

But Mallinder recognises his team need to be more flexible if they are to beat the best teams England has to offer.

He said: “We’ve had a bit of criticism in the past and it’s quite right that when you come up against top sides you can’t bully them.

“We know we’ve got to be able to play with 15 men, get the wingers involved and Ben Foden on the ball.”