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Aviva Premiership
Mallinder demands Saints improvement
ESPN Staff
April 21, 2014
Northampton director of rugby Jim Mallinder exultes on his players before kick-off. Northampton Saints v Gloucester, Aviva Premiership, Franklin's Garden, Northampton, England, February 9, 2013
Jim Mallinder has called for greater intensity from his players © Getty Images
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Jim Mallinder has admitted his Northampton players need to improve for the Aviva Premiership play-offs after watching them "switch off" and nearly throw away victory against London Irish.

Northampton were cruising at 29-0 with 20 minutes remaining in Sunday's clash with Irish, but three second-half tries from the visitors saw them give the Saints a real scare. Marland Yarde's 60 metre effort would have made it 29-28 in the final 10 minutes, but the TMO ruled Tom Homer's pass was forward.

The five points keeps Northampton seven points clear of third-placed Bath and on course for a home semi-final, but a relieved Mallinder said: "We need to be better than that when we come up against the big sides.

"At half-time we spoke about keeping that intensity to our game and we did for the first 10 minutes. We got the fourth try and then we seemed to switch off, getting turned over twice in the final third and seeing them go the distance - and then it gets a bit squeaky.

"It is really disappointing as it was a game which could have been a convincing win, but ends up being in the balance.

"I was delighted to see the referee refer the Yarland try. We were very grateful to see it called forward."

Mallinder confirmed replacement hooker Matt Williams, who was carried off on a stretcher, had broken his leg, leaving him with just one fit hooker in Ross McMillan. Mike Haywood and Dylan Hartley are both injured, though Mallinder said Hartley might be back for the clash at Bath in two weeks, which could also see the return of Alex Corbisiero after a lengthy lay-off.

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd

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