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Mallinder happy with first half performance but room for improvement

Mallinder happy with first half performance but room for improvement

Northampton coach Jim Mallinder had mixed feelings after his side retained their position at the top of the Aviva Premiership Rugby with a comfortable 35-23 victory over second-placed London Irish at Franklin’s Gardens.

The game was virtually over as a contest by half-time as the impressive Saints blew away the Irish with a 24-point burst in the 17 minutes prior to the interval.

On a memorable night for the Saints the only negative were injuries. Props Soane Tonga'uiha and Brian Mujati limped off and Paul Diggin was carried off on a stretcher late on, which disrupted Saints' play and allowed the Exiles a flattering final scoreline.

Mallinder said: "I'm delighted with a five-point win.It was a good performance, we played some real good stuff in the first half with some good tries but in the second half I was a bit disappointed that we allowed them two tries and they challenged for a bonus point"

Mallinder's assessment was correct as Northampton went from 6-0 down to 27-9 ahead at the interval before injuries and abundant substitutions disrupted Saints.

Diggin, scorer of two tries, went off after 66 minutes with Mallinder reporting: "It was a very heavy knock to the head but he's sitting up in the dressing room and should be okay."

In addition Mallinder revealed props Tonga'uiha and Mujati had sprained ankles but he expects them to be fine.

London Irish coach Toby Booth expressed his disappointment his side had conceded so many points after a good start.

Booth said: "We expected to do better than that. We set our own standards but we fell short. We had control for the first 10 minutes but we then relinquished control for a long period.

"Northampton are a very talented squad but I'm very disappointed we conceded 32 points in 40 minutes of rugby.

"I was pleased how we responded in adversity but we should not have put ourselves in that position".

England squad full back Delon Armitage was substituted in the second half after a disappointing match.

Booth said "He's only played 30 minutes of rugby in seven weeks and he was tightening up so I brought him off before it became more of a problem."

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