Mallinder determined to make Saints supporters proud

The proof will certainly be in the Christmas pudding for Saints this week.

Friday, 23rd December 2016, 7:00 am
Updated Thursday, 29th December 2016, 3:13 pm
Jim Mallinder (picture: Sharon Lucey)

Because if they lose to Sale Sharks at Franklin’s Gardens tonight, it will compound last Saturday’s sizeable defeat in Dublin.

But if they win in impressive fashion, then boss Jim Mallinder may just feel vindicated when it comes to the sacrificial showing at the Aviva Stadium.

Saints were eviscerated by Leinster, conceding nine tries as their team, which did not include several rested international players, suffered badly.

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It was so tough for everyone of a green, black and gold persuasion to watch.

Mallinder later stood by his decision, insisting Champions Cup qualification was out of reach and the spotlight simple had to shine on the upcoming Aviva Premiership fixtures.

Now, Saints need their selection policy to pay the dividends their director of rugby expects it to, by beating Sale.

“We all know that we let the club down last weekend,” said Mallinder.

“You don’t want to go out ever to play as we did. We got well beaten by a better side but we know that we can improve, and that’s what we’ve got to do.

“We’ve got to put what happened behind us and we’ve not gone through it with a fine-tooth comb.

“We started the Leinster game here and we were in the game for 50 minutes against a quality side, but it went downhill from there and last week we continued in that vein.

“We’re really disappointed for our fans who made the effort to get out there and support the team, but there’s only one thing we can do now and as players and coaches we’ve got to pull together.

“It’s all about us getting out there on Friday night and putting in a performance that will make us proud and, as important, the fans proud.”

Saints have struggled at the Gardens this season, losing to the likes of Bath, Wasps and Newcastle Falcons.

They currently sit ninth in the Aviva Premiership standings and have had plenty of problems to deal with, including the George North saga and Dylan Hartley’s ban.

But Mallinder said: “You can look at it as being really tough or you can look at it on the positive side.

“We’ve got to be sensible knowing where we’re at, but we’ve got three winnable games coming up, playing teams who are in a very similar position to us, starting on Friday.

“If you win three games on the bounce in the Premiership, you very quickly move up the league.

“There’s a chance if we do that we can get back in the top six, pushing for top four.

“We’re in the Anglo-Welsh, on top of that league, so we’re doing well in that.

“Okay, Europe, we’re probably going to struggle to qualify now, but I was delighted with the youngsters who turned up on Monday night and beat Leicester at home, we’re top of the A League.

“There’s lots of positives going on here and we’re not doom and gloom.

“We’re not playing the best we can, we did get a good hammering at the weekend, so we’re aware of the situation, but we’re also aware that if we can win our next three games, the outlook is a lot brighter.

“The boys are in good spirits and, of course, we’ll see on Friday whether we’ve put Saturday’s performance behind us and moved on, or whether we haven’t.”