Mallinder: We’ll rise to challenge in quarter-finals

Jim Mallinder says Saints will rise to the challenge of an away quarter-final (pictures: Sharon Lucey)
Jim Mallinder says Saints will rise to the challenge of an away quarter-final (pictures: Sharon Lucey)

Jim Mallinder admits Saints’ humbling home defeat at the hands of Racing Metro is ‘a blow to our season’.

But he believes his side will rise to the challenge of an away Champions Cup quarter-final.

Saints V Racing Metro. NNL-150124-174217009

Saints V Racing Metro. NNL-150124-174217009

Saints qualified for the knock-out stages of Europe’s top tier competition for the first time since 2011 thanks to Wasps’ draw with Leinster.

But Mallinder’s men will be forced to travel in early April after four-try Racing’s rampant 32-8 success at Franklin’s Gardens.

And the Saints boss said: “It’s a blow to our season, but we’re still in the competition.

“The fans like an away trip, they get behind the team and we’ll make sure we don’t go down without a fight.

“It’ll be a tough ask, but we’re in this game for challenges.

“Of course we’re disappointed to have lost this game, we wanted a home quarter-final, it gives you a good chance.

“We’re going to have to go to France, which is difficult, but we enjoy challenges so we look forward to that.”

Saints skipper Dylan Hartley was yellow carded in only his second game back from a three-week ban for elbowing Leicester’s Matt Smith.

And Mallinder felt it was a deserved sin-binning, even if it was not a malicious act.

“You can’t tackle someone when you’re on the floor,” said Mallinder.

“The Racing player had made a break and could have scored so that’s why he (referee Nigel Owens) went for the yellow.”