Aviva Premiership: Jim Mallinder hails Northampton’s win

Aviva Premiership: Northampton Saints direct of rugby Jim Mallinder dedicates semi-final win to fans

Northampton
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Leicester
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Jim Mallinder dedicated victory to the Northampton Saints faithful after his side denied Leicester Tigers a tenth straight Aviva Premiership final.

The Saints, who were beaten by Leicester in last year’s final, needed a late Tom Wood try to clinch the result at Franklin’s Gardens on Friday night.

Leicester had held the advantage at the break, following tries from Manu Tuilagi and Ben Youngs, but George North crashed over for Saints before man of the match Wood settled the contest three minutes from time.

And Mallinder, who had guided Northampton to second in the Aviva Premiership table, was pleased him gameplan had eventually paid off.

“It was just wonderful – it was wonderful,” he said. “You look at the crowd and they support the team in all weather, all conditions and they are a brilliant crowd.

“Leicester have beaten us year in, year out for the last few years but the crowd are always hopeful, coming back for more and today I think they were brilliant from the first minute to the 80th minute.

“They got behind the team and I think it is just reward for the town and for the whole crowd – it’s magnificent.

“It was two good sides, real good semi-final knockout rugby. Leicester had two really good opportunities and scored from those but we thought we could keep the pressure on.

“We couldn’t really get into an arm wrestle with Leicester because they are the masters at it – they are really good at that.

“We wanted to come out and play rugby, we wanted to move the ball and we wanted to test their front five and their fitness -and I think that is something we managed to do.”

For Leicester it marks the end of an incredible run of nine consecutive appearances at the Twickenham showpiece but director of rugby Richard Cockerill vowed to bounce back strongly next season.

“This is Leicester. We’ll be back,” he said.

“Our discipline killed us. I think we gave away twice as many pens as them and the yellow cards gave them impetus.

“You can see what it means to them to beat Leicester. We’ll have a beer tonight now. Our season is over.”

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