Newcastle Falcons 15-22 Northampton Saints, Aviva Premiership, April 15
Mallinder wanted to rest stars
ESPNscrum Staff
April 15, 2011
Northampton's Ben Foden exploits a gap in the Newcastle defence, Newcastle Falcons v Northampton Saints, Aviva Premiership, Kingston Park, Newcastle, England, April 15, 2011
Northampton's Ben Foden exploits a gap in the Newcastle defence © Getty Images

Northampton director of rugby Jim Mallinder admitted he would have liked to offer some of his England stars a rest but was pleased they were able to deliver four Premiership points with a 22-15 win against battling Newcastle at Kingston Park.

Newcastle, for whom Jimmy Gopperth scored five penalties, led 6-0 before going 15-9 down but battled back to 15-15 before Chris Ashton's try won it for the Saints.

England winger Ashton is one of the men Mallinder would have been eager to ease up on after a hard Heineken Cup game at the weekend and two big Premiership matches on the horizon, but in ensuring the victory he validated Mallinder's decision.

Bruce Reihana and Ashton's international colleague Ben Foden also touched down for Saints.

"We knew Newcastle would be tough and they're fighting for their lives so we're happy to go home with four points," said Mallinder.

"Newcastle are always tough to beat up here and while they have a tough run in, they will always have a chance when they are at home,

"In a perfect world I would have left out some of our England lads or taken them off before the end, but we came here with the intention of winning and we're pleased we got through that.

"We now have to negotiate our next two games at Gloucester on Tuesday and London Irish away at the weekend."

Newcastle head coach Alan Tait praised his players after they scrapped their way to a losing bonus point.

Tait's side move off the bottom of the standings and ahead of Leeds on points difference but Tait also warned his players against getting carried away.

"I'm chuffed to bits for the lads but there is a bit of disappointment we didn't hang on for the draw," he said.

"We've thrown away a few points this season and now we're talking about a point rather than points - it's that vital.

"It is a concern we're not scoring tries and it just gets harder because we have Leicester next here on Friday, but if the crowd gets behind us like they did tonight then anything can happen.

"We may be off the bottom for just a few hours as Leeds are at Wasps on Sunday. I'll be out walking the dog, but I'm sure I'll get a text or two about the result there."

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