Aviva Premiership
Mallinder: Irish clash is must-win
ESPNscrum Staff
April 20, 2011
Northampton director of rugby Jim Mallinder offers some instruction, Northampton Saints training session, Franklin's Gardens, Northampton, England, January 5, 2011
Jim Mallinder is preparing his side for a huge clash against London Irish © Getty Images

Northampton boss Jim Mallinder had branded Saturday's Aviva Premiership clash against London Irish as a must-win following Tuesday night's loss to Gloucester.

A below-strength Saints side suffered a 27-15 reversal at Kingsholm, leaving them in fourth spot, the final play-off place, four points above London Irish with two games left.

After Saturday's clash with the Exiles, Northampton face relegation candidates Leeds Carnegie, while their rivals are on the road to title-chasing Leicester.

"We need to go down and beat London Irish on Saturday, it's as simple as that," Mallinder said.

The Irish clash will complete a hectic period of three games in nine days for the Saints, with their sizeable England contingent only allowed to play 160 minutes of the fixtures.

England forwards Dylan Hartley and Courtney Lawes appeared as second-half substitutes against Gloucester in a game rearranged following a Boxing Day postponement due to freezing weather.

"We should not be playing these midweek fixtures. We need to get adequate covers to play week after week," Mallinder said. "We made a good comeback and it was disappointing we did not get a bonus point, but we conceded two sloppy tries.

"Dylan Hartley and Soane Tonga'uiha both went close to tries, and we had some overlaps when we could possibly have done better, but it is still in our hands."

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

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