Jim Mallinder backed his side to continue their push up the table after they moved into Aviva Premiership Rugby’s top six with a 24-14 victory over Worcester Warriors at Franklin’s Gardens.
Eleventh-place Warriors rattled Saints early with a sixth-minute score from full-back Josh Adams, but Mallinder’s side regrouped and registered two first-half tries through England flanker Teimana Harrison and hooker Mike Haywood.
Stephen Myler added seven points with the boot to make it 17-7 at the break, and Haywood scored another try before the end to make the points safe.
Haywood’s score helped Saints recover from back-to-back league defeats to move into the European Rugby Champions Cup spots and Mallinder believes their season is very much alive ahead of clashes with Sale Sharks and Leicester Tigers.
— Tom Wood (@tomwood678) February 25, 2017
“We’ve gone back into the top six, which is a good place to be, and we’ve got two massive games ahead of us,” Mallinder explained.
“We go up to Sale next week and then Leicester coming here will be massive with the internationals back.
“If we can get two wins in those two games, you never know.
“The players are all trying. You look in the dressing room and there are some tired bodies. We’re working hard.”
Warriors fly-half Ryan Mills, who had added the conversion to Adams’ early effort, missed two penalties that would have given the Warriors a fresh lease of life early in the second half.
Bryce Heem did score with the final play of the game for Worcester, but they were to walk away with no reward for their efforts.
Bryce Heem did get a late consolation but Saints win by 10 so no bonus point for Gary Gold’s men.😦
— Worcester Warriors🏉 (@WorcsWarriors) February 25, 2017
And despite Saints’ comfortable win, Worcester director of rugby Gary Gold felt the majority of their problems were self-inflicted.
“You lose games of rugby in two ways – you’re either beaten by a better team or you create the problems for yourself. Today, we largely created the problems for ourselves,” the 49-year-old said.
“We weren’t able to execute well enough in the first half to relieve pressure and then we go and give a penalty away to let them back in it.
“It’s frustrating because it’s the second week in row we’ve needed to be more clinical in our execution.
“We’ve had opportunities and against good rugby teams you need to take those opportunities. Unfortunately, we’ve haven’t done that today.
“There were opportunities out there for us so we’re going to have to be very hard on ourselves before next week.”
— Premiership Rugby (@premrugby) February 25, 2017
Northampton Saints: Tuala (Estelles 72); K Pisi, Tuitavake (Wilson 58), Mallinder, Foden (c); Myler, Groom (Dickson 65); A Waller (E Waller 71), Haywood (Clare 78), Brookes (Hill 59); Paterson, Day (Ratuniyarawa 58); Gibson, Clark (Dickinson 75), Harrison.
Worcester Warriors: Adams; Heem, Olivier, Willison, Humphreys (Pennell 52); Mills (Lamb 65), Hougaard; Bower (Leleimalefaga 58), Annett (Bregvadze 65), Schonert (Alo 5); O’Callaghan (c) (Cavubati 59), Spencer; Dowson (Mama 56), Lewis, Poitgieter.
Tries: Harrison, Haywood 2
Conversions: Myler 3
Tries: Adams, Heem
Conversions: Mills, Lamb
Referee: Craig Maxwell-Keys