Flying start vital for Saints boss Mallinder

Jim Mallinder says it is vital Saints get off to a flying start in the Heineken Cup (picture: Linda Dawson)
Jim Mallinder says it is vital Saints get off to a flying start in the Heineken Cup (picture: Linda Dawson)

Jim Mallinder has warned Saints they must beat Glasgow Warriors on Sunday if they are to harbour any hopes of Heineken Cup glory this season.

Northampton paid the price for a poor start in the competition last year, losing their first two games and bowing out in the pool stages.

A spirited display at Munster, where Saints lost to a Ronan O’Gara drop goal which came several minutes after the clock struck 80, was followed by a defeat to Scarlets six days later.

The 28-23 loss to the Welsh side perhaps hurt more as Mallinder’s men struggled in front of their own fans at Franklin’s Gardens.

And with home form so important to hopes of making it into the quarter-finals, the Saints boss knows it’s vital his men get off to a winning start this weekend.

“If you’re going to think about last season, we lost to Scarlets in our first home game and that was a massive blow,” said Mallinder.

“You can’t be losing games at home. You’ve got to get off to a flying start and if we want to be successful in this tournament, we need to beat Glasgow at the weekend.”

Scarlets possessed some dynamic backs who posed Saints a number of problems, including wing Sean Lamont, who will line up for Glasgow on Sunday.

Mallinder is well aware of the ammunition the Warriors have at their disposal and he picked out Lamont and Scotland full-back Stuart Hogg as the ones to watch out for.

“Clearly they like to play rugby,” he said. “They’ve got some decent forwards but they’ve got two half-backs who like to put the ball through their hands, and they’ve got some outside backs who are very, very dangerous.

“They play a very attacking brand of rugby and they’re good up front as well.

“Hogg’s a very talented player. He’s shown this season what he can do. He’s very elusive and he’s just one of many threats.

“They’ve got (Sean) Lamont on the wing who we also know well and he’ll be looking to come in and carry ball. They’ve got some real dangerous threats.”