Harlequins 16-20 Northampton, Aviva Premiership, September 11
Mallinder hails Saints' defence
September 11, 2010
Northampton's Roger Wilson gets to grips with Quins' Will Skinner © Getty Images
Northampton director of rugby Jim Mallinder hailed his side's outstanding defence following their battling 20-16 Aviva Premiership victory at Harlequins.
The Saints made it two wins from two matches as they followed up their opening-weekend victory over champions Leicester with their first away success over Harlequins for six years. Only a desperate rearguard action enabled Northampton to survive a late onslaught as Harlequins piled forward in search of a winning try.
There were only six seconds left on the clock when England fullback Ben Foden prevented Quins' replacement prop Joe Marler from grounding the ball as he was driven over the line. And Mallinder said, "It wasn't a typical Northampton performance in terms of our attacking game. But it was good to get a breakaway try, good to score to get back in front at the end of the game but, mainly, you can put the win down to a lot of good defence.
"Ben's a good defender, he reads the game well and he put in a good tackling performance - but everyone did. I was really pleased with the defensive performance."
He also praised England hooker Dylan Hartley, who crowned a combative display with the winning try in the 69th minute. "Dylan led the team in his typical robust style. He was in their faces, his defence was very good and he loves to counter-ruck, going through if they don't commit enough numbers. Sometimes it gets him in a bit of bother but he's trying to do the right thing, staying on his feet and actually making the breakdown competitive."
Mallinder added, "To win two out of two at the start of the season is what you are after but we have Bath at home next week and then we go away to Saracens so it's a difficult start."
Harlequins boss Conor O'Shea was upbeat in defeat which leaves his side still looking for their first win following last weekend's 29-29 draw with Wasps a Twickenham.
"For the players there's no consolation at all because they deserved to win. In the second half they were outstanding," maintained O'Shea who saw his side turn a 13-0 deficit into a 16-13 lead before Hartley's winning try. "This is not about one game, two games, this is about 22 games over the season and if we perform like that things will come good and we'll put some teams to the sword because we are creating a shed-load of opportunities.
"It's very hard for the guys to take that because they played some outstanding rugby but we'll get back and ready for Sale up in Stockport next week."