Saints seeking to exploit Gloucester’s ‘limitations’

HAPPY MAN - Jim Mallinder is delighted with Saints' recent run, but remains wary of Gloucester (Picture: Linda Dawson)
HAPPY MAN - Jim Mallinder is delighted with Saints' recent run, but remains wary of Gloucester (Picture: Linda Dawson)
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Jim Mallinder is not totally surprised by Gloucester’s struggles – despite the fact they beat Saints earlier in the season.

But the director of rugby is wary of the threat the Cherry and Whites will pose at Franklin’s Gardens on Saturday.

Nigel Davies’ team earned a dramatic 26-24 victory at Kingsholm in September, with a controversial Billy Twelvetrees penalty earning the home team the spoils.

But Gloucester have not kicked on from that victory, winning just five of their 15 Premiership games this season.

And when asked whether he was surprised by that run of form, Mallinder, who has steered his team to 10 successive league wins, said: “Yes and no. They’ve shown at times that they can be an outstanding team, but they’ve shown at others that they have got some limitations.

“It’s up to us this weekend to try to find their limitations and their weaknesses.

“They’ve got the ability to play good rugby have Gloucester. We know that.

“We saw them play last weekend, they had a good win (against Harlequins) and we saw it early in the season when we went down there.

“It was a narrow game and everyone talks about the last few minutes, but it was close because they played well as well and got in the lead by playing some good rugby.

“It will be a Gloucester team coming up here wanting to throw the ball around, wanting to play some good rugby and it’s going to be a good game.”

Saints have not been beaten in the Premiership since that sunny September day at Gloucester.

And Mallinder has paid tribute to every member of the Northampton staff for what they have achieved in recent months.

“I put it down to a talented squad who are working really hard on their game, and by squad I mean squad,” he said. “It’s fantastic that some players have stepped up, particularly with the international players being away.

“It’s down to the coaches putting in a good shift, changing the emphasis on what we do, changing things in terms of our attack and our defence, but also getting our basics right.

“And it’s also about a really good team spirit because that’s what you need.”