Mallinder confident Saints can achieve top-four spot

STAYING POSITIVE - Saints boss Jim Mallinder
STAYING POSITIVE - Saints boss Jim Mallinder

Jim Mallinder denies he is worried about Saints’ ability to finish in the Aviva Premiership top four – despite seeing them lose their past two league games.

Mallinder’s men suffered a 16-6 defeat to rivals Saracens on Saturday, failing to convert possession into points as Mark McCall’s side held out.

The loss added to the woe endured at London Irish earlier in the month, when Saints put in a shocking performance and were thrashed 39-17.

Despite those back-to-back defeats, Northampton still occupy a spot in the play-off places, sitting fourth ahead of this weekend’s east midlands derby at Leicester Tigers.

And Mallinder said: “I’m not worried about long term future. You always look at the season and when you’ve got Saracens and Leicester next to each other then it’s always a big ask for the squad.

“I’m disappointed but we’ve been playing some good rugby recently and we’re not a long way off. I think we could have won the game on Saturday and we need to work harder to do that.”

One area Saints will be honing in training this week is their scrum, which enjoyed some success on Saturday, but is not the same deadly weapon as it was in the halcyon days of the 2010/11 season.

The club reached the Heineken Cup final in that campaign and narrowly lost out to Leicester in the Premiership semi-final, and Mallinder is eager to see the forwards hit top form once more.

“What we’ve got to do is work on our scrum,” said the Saints boss. “It’s something we pride ourselves on.

“We want that as a platform and if that’s to get penalties or to get a good right shoulder in a tackle position that’s what we’re trying to do.”