Jim Mallinder was delighted with the efforts of his back row after Northampton Saints downed Aviva Premiership Rugby leaders Saracens 20-15 at Allianz Park.
Stephen Myler and Lee Dickson scored a try in each half, but it was the efforts of Jamie Gibson, Tom Wood and Teimana Harrison that stood out for Mallinder.
Saints did lose Courtney Lawes to an ankle injury with Mallinder unsure of how serious it would be but it didn’t affect them on the day.
He said: “I think our performance, particularly in the first half, was very good. And we came out in the second half and Dickson scored, slightly disappointed we couldn’t finish off the Foden opportunity but we are generally happy.
“Tom Wood’s work rate was good today, he really got around the field and he’s been one of our standout performers this year. Our back row has been outstanding recently too.
“Dickson’s general form has been excellent – he came into some criticism earlier in the season but he’s responded well.
“Courtney is sore. He’s twisted his ankle but we don’t know the extent of the damage just yet. But the arm seems ok. Too early for me to say how he will be but he’s a tough lad. I don’t think he will want downtime! He always wants to play and be given more minutes.”
It was a frustrating game for Saracens, who led 9-7 at the break but couldn’t break through the Saints defence.
However, with a number of players away on international duty, Mark McCall was still pleased with the efforts of his team.
He said: “We got away with a bonus point, and we move on to the next game. We've asked a lot from this group in the last few weeks, the physicality and the intent was there today, which is pleasing, but we were undone by the small things today.
“In terms of the big stuff that you require week in week out, we were good. We just got the small stuff wrong today, the details – knocking on three balls in good positions.
“This is a tremendously challenging period for us and it’s been tough. Despite the fact we lost today, I think we are going to be ok. We are all in the race to get into a top four spot and hopefully we have enough, especially with the cavalry coming back, to stay there.”
Saracens: Goode, Ellery (Bosch 62), Taylor, Barritt, Wyles, Mordt, Spencer (De Kock 68), Barrington, George, Du Plessis (Figallo 49), Smith, Hamilton, Rhodes, Brown (Burger 46), Wray
Not used: Saunders, Thompson-Stringer, Low, Earle
Northampton: Foden, Pisi K, Pisi G, Burrell, Collins, Myler, Dickson (Kessell 73), Waller A (Waller E 64), Haywood (Marshall 79), Brookes (Hill 55), Lawes (Craig 31), Matfield (Dickinson 68), Gibson, Wood, Harrison
Not used: Hanrahan, Mallinder
Penalties: Spencer 3, Goode 2
Tries: Myler, Dickson
Conversions: Myler 2
Penalties: Myler 2
Referee: Tom Foley