- Northampton Saints prepare for Glasgow clash
- Mallinder wants urgency for European fixture
Due to the Paris attacks, Northampton Saints and Scarlets were the only teams in their group taking part in the opening round of the European Champions Cup.
One win in four games left Jim Mallinader’s side in a sticky place early in the season but they managed to churn out a narrow 15-11 win against Scarlets at a rain-soaked Franklin’s Gardens
Saints Head Coach Mallinder believes his side need to make the most of their chances.
“We left some points out on the field against the Scarlets,” he said. “The try that was ruled out was an obvious one, but deeper in our field we had two or three opportunities where we had overlaps when we needed to be accurate and pass the ball to get some width and score more tries.
“We’ve got to train hard, we’ve got to be ambitious and to keep that intent to play. We’ve got to take our chances and our opportunities.”
The second round of the European Champions Cup kicks off this weekend and Saints face a long trek north to take on Glasgow Warriors in a pivotal encounter for both sides.
“It’s another tough game. Every single week we’re going to be saying this. But we’ve got off to a good start, we’re one from one, and we’re looking forward to it.”
“I think generally you’ve got to stick to a game plan that works for you and you can’t go from one week to another playing a completely different style of rugby,” says Mallinder.
New skipper Lee Dickson will be feeling the heat after the team’s worst season start in four years.
“I’ve known Lee for quite a long time, used to coach him with England Saxons and even back to England U20s. He’s a good guy who brings energy to the club and he’s looking to push the team and the club both on and off the field.”
Scottish giants Glasgow haven’t made it out of the group stages of the Champions Cup since 1998 but the list of internationals in their squad puts them in a strong position.
“We played Glasgow a few years ago. They had such a successful season last year so they’re flying and I think they’re getting better as a team, clearly a lot of those players performed well for Scotland over the years and certainly in the World Cup,” Mallinder reflects.
The 2015 Rugby World Cup interfered with the club’s pre-season with several stars on international duty, however their defeat to Aviva Premiership newcomers Worcester Warriors in the opening round has raised questions.
“We generally start off pretty well. I know we haven’t this season and you don’t like to blame things but the World Cup is big. I’ve witnessed it through coaching four and eight years ago and looking at other sides as well.
“The tournament does create a reaction and it takes time for teams to gel. We’ve not been at our best these past few weeks, we’ve played some pretty good rugby at different times but we’ve not put that together for 80 minutes. So we’re a little bit disappointed with the start but we’re confident we have the team to put it together,” says Malliander.
Last season Saints were beaten 37-5 by Clermont Auvergne in the competition’s quarter finals and Mallinder believes English clubs have realistic hope in the coming seasons.
“To progress in the tournament you must have all your best players fit, particularly when you come up against a big French team with strength in depth all the way through. I don’t think the English sides have got that, although the salary cap is slowly rising.”
It remains to be seen whether this particular Saints team can put the Warriors to the sword.