Mallinder lauds Stephenson score after Saints win

SPECIAL MOMENT - the Saints players congratulate Tom Stephenson on his first senior try (Pictures: Linda Dawson)
SPECIAL MOMENT - the Saints players congratulate Tom Stephenson on his first senior try (Pictures: Linda Dawson)

Jim Mallinder hailed Tom Stephenson after the young Saints centre scored a superb first senior try in Sunday’s win at Newcastle.

Stephenson side-stepped his way past two players to help his team fly into a 19-6 half-time lead against the Falcons.

Saints saw the game out to earn a 22-16 success, which is their 10th successive Aviva Premiership win and an 11th victory in a row in all competitions.

And 19-year-old Academy graduate Stephenson, who was held back from England Under 20s duty for the game at Kingston Park, had a special moment to savour.

“It was a great try,” said director of rugby Mallinder. “He showed really good feet on a difficult surface and he’s getting better and better.

“We’re pleased with him. He’s a young Academy lad who’s coming through and growing into a good Premiership player now.”

Noah Cato grabbed a second-half try for Newcastle to earn them a losing bonus point.

Saints missed out on maximum points, but Mallinder was just happy to walk away with a win on what was the stodgiest of surfaces.

“It’s always good to come up here and win,” he said. “We played really well in the first half, considering we were playing into a bit of a breeze.

“We had a really good first half, scored a few tries and then you would like to kick on, but Newcastle upped their game.

“We struggled a bit in the lineout to get some possession there and ended up defending and being on the back foot a little bit.

“We’ve got four points and we’re happy with that.”

The nature of the Kingston Park pitch saw Saints leave Ben Foden out of the matchday 23.

And Mallinder felt that was the right decision as the England full-back continues to return to full fitness following a long-term knee injury.

“He was just a little bit sore,” said Mallinder, who had initially included Foden in his squad for the game. “He trained all week, but was just a bit sore.

“It was the right decision, particularly looking at that pitch, not to force the issue.”