Mallinder wants Saints to maintain momentum with derby day victory

Saints director of rugby Jim Mallinder

Saints director of rugby Jim Mallinder

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Jim Mallinder admits Leicester have the knack of winning when it matters.

But the Saints boss is desperate to see his side claim a derby-day victory that would help them maintain momentum going into next Saturday’s Aviva Premiership play-off semi-final.

Mallinder’s men head to Welford Road on the back of two successive wins, against Saracens and London Welsh, that have ensured they will top the regular-season standings.

That means they will face whoever finishes fourth at Franklin’s Gardens next weekend.

And Mallinder said: “We’ve done what we wanted to do in getting the home semi-final and coming top of the pile, but now we’ve got to move on.

“We want to perform at Leicester and stay in winning ways ahead of next week.”

Third-placed Leicester know they must beat Saints this afternoon to be sure of their place in the top four, with Exeter and Saracens breathing down their neck.

If they fail to make it, it would be the first time Richard Cockerill’s side have missed out on the play-offs since the current format was introduced in the 2005/06 season.

And Mallinder said: “What a fantastic record Leicester have got.

“Even when they’re going through a season like this, when they’ve had lots of criticisms for their style of play, for not scoring many points, they’ve still got that knack of winning.

“They showed that last week by playing very well and winning at Wasps.

“We know what’s at stake for them, which is getting into that top four, we know how difficult it is to play at Welford Road, we’ve been there many times.

“We know it’s going to be a tough game.”