Planet Rugby

Mallinder hails Northampton fans

17th May 2014 09:22

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Praise: Jim Mallinder

Northampton boss Jim Mallinder hailed the Saints faithful after his side denied Leicester a tenth straight 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 Premiership table, was pleased him game-plan 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."

Saints fought back from a 17-6 half-time deficit and secured victory despite finishing the game with 14 men after Salesi Ma'afu was sent off for punching Tom Youngs..

Skipper Wood was delighted that his side had turned the tables on their arch rivals.

"I've always known we've had it in us," said Wood, already eyeing a first Premiership title.

"It's been frustrating to talk about being nearly men, about this omen, and this hold Leicester have had over us.

"It's a bit of a myth really because it's such tight margins, we've drawn and been very competitive.

"It's been so frustrating, to know you've got that in you. And we could have been so much better in this game even.

"So to get over the line finally is a huge positive and something we're really proud of."

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