Saracens 24-17 Northampton, Aviva Premiership, September 26
Mallinder hits out at referee
September 26, 2010
Sarries boss Brendan Venter reflects on the game

Northampton Saints director of rugby Jim Mallinder was far from pleased with referee Dave Pearson after his side suffered their first defeat of the season, against Saracens, on Sunday afternoon.

The Saints came out on the wrong end of a 24-17 scoreline at Vicarage Road, with all but three points of the home side's tally coming courtesy of penalties. In addition, Northampton also lost two players, Calum Clark and Shane Geraghty, to yellow cards and Mallinder felt that his side had been hard done by.

"We think Dave Pearson had a disappointing game. When you lose you tend to look at the referee more critically, but we'll look closely at the video before saying anything further," he said.

"I do believe the two sin-binnings were harsh. Calum Clark just went in to make a tackle and Shane Geraghty also made a tackle and tried to roll away quickly. A penalty, yes, but hardly a yellow card. These sin-binnings are very important. But you need to control the ball to control the game and we didn't during the middle of the game."

By complete contrast, Sarries director of rugby Brendan Venter was full of praise for not only his players but also Pearson, whom he labelled one of the best referees in the league.

"We studied Dave Pearson's games so far and he does the same in every game: fair penalty awards and spread across the game. He is consistent and very, very impressive," he said.

Sarries captain Steve Borthwick talks to ESPN

Venter conceded that his side had started sluggishly, arguing that it had taken them some time to come to terms with the inclement weather conditions. However, he was delighted with the way in which they had responded to falling six points behind early on, taking the time to single out Steve Borthwick for special praise.

"We did not show tactical sharpness in the opening 20 minutes, but I told the guys to take the Treviso game off the shelf, the kicking game that we used for that European game last season," he said.

"We had trouble in the scrum at first, but the pack turned it for us against a very strong Northampton pack who have destroyed everyone ahead of them so far. And never underestimate how important it is for us to have a fit and available Steve Borthwick in the team in terms of both his tactical brain and leadership qualities."


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