Jim Mallinder labelled Kahn Fotuali’i ‘a special player’ after the Samoan scrum-half inspired Saints to an Amlin Challenge Cup semi-final success against Harlequins.
Fotuali’i scored one and provided a moment of magic to create another for Tom Collins as Mallinder’s men earned an impressive 18-10 win at Franklin’s Gardens.
The victory ensures a place in the Cardiff showpiece on May 23, when Saints will be looking to end a run of four straight final defeats, against either Wasps or Bath, who meet at Adams Park on Sunday.
And Mallinder was happy to heap praise on Fotuali’i after the former Ospreys star shone brightly against Quins.
“Kahn’s a special player,” said the Saints boss. “There were two outstanding nines on the field today and Danny Care, as we’ve seen over the last few weeks, has been in great form.
“I think we marshaled him well and I thought Kahn was outstanding.
“He’s a quality player and we’ve got Lee Dickson as well, who has got a little bit of a knock as well, so we’re very, very lucky we’ve got some quality scrum-halves at the club.”
Care was one of four current England players in a strong Quins side, with Mike Brown, Chris Robshaw and Joe Marler also starting.
But Saints snuffed out their threat, with Nick Easter’s second-half score the only thing for Conor O’Shea’s side to shout about.
And Mallinder said: “It was a hard-fought win and it was always going to be tough.
“Quins are a good side and they value the competition. They wanted to win it and you see from the team they put out that they were going to be competitive.
“We had to work hard for it. We were brilliant defensively for 80 minutes, stopped a lot of their threats, Danny Care in particular.
“We took our opportunities in attack and our half-backs were very, very good at giving us field position and putting us in the right places.”