Mallinder sees similarities between misfiring Saints and Falcons
Jim Mallinder sees plenty of similarities between how Saints and Newcastle Falcons have performed this season.
And the Northampton director of rugby knows his team will have to be at their best if they are to secure a much-needed Aviva Premiership win at Franklin's Gardens tonight (kick-off 7.45pm).Like Saints, Newcastle have lost their past four league matches.Both teams enjoyed a brief spell at the top of the table during September, but both have fallen away since.And Mallinder said: "They've started the season like us. They were winning games and were top of the league at one stage."They've just not been firing well over recent weeks, like us, but they've got internationals returning to give them a big boost."We're expecting a big threat."They love to play some running rugby, a wide game to put our defence under pressure and we're going to have to be at our best."Saints have lost won just once since the end of September, with that victory coming against the Dragons in the Anglo-Welsh Cup.And Mallinder knows how vital this week's clash is for his side."It's another big game - we've had a lot of them," he said."We understand our form has not been good, it needs to be better and this is a good opportunity to get back to winning ways."If we can do that, we've then got Ospreys back-to-back in Europe and two big Premiership games (against Exeter and Harlequins) either side of Christmas."It's all to play for."Saints were beaten 18-15 by Sale Sharks at the AJ Bell Stadium last Saturday.And Mallinder added: "We all know where we're at, we're all disappointed with our form."We actually played some good rugby last weekend and it's a frustration that we couldn't get the win in difficult conditions."We defended a lot better, nullified their threats, had a good kicking game and we could have come away with more."But it's gone and we need to make sure our performance is better this week."