Saints’ defence outstanding, says Mallinder

Mike Haywood scored the only try of the game (pictures: Sharon Lucey)
Mike Haywood scored the only try of the game (pictures: Sharon Lucey)
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Jim Mallinder hailed his side’s ‘outstanding’ defence after their stubborn 8-3 success against Exeter Chiefs at Franklin’s Gardens.

A Mike Haywood try and a JJ Hanrahan penalty secured a precious Aviva Premiership win for Saints on the first day of 2016.

Jim Mallinder

Jim Mallinder

Exeter, who had not lost in the league since the opening day of the season, could only respond through a 74th-minute Gareth Steenson penalty.

And that means Saints have now not conceded a try at the Gardens in their past three games, with Scarlets the last team to dot down against Mallinder’s men.

“It was a good win for us,” said the director of rugby.

“It’s a good Exeter side, scoring lots of tries and clearly after last week’s defeat at London Irish we needed a bit of a pick up.

“It was a good performance today. Once again our defence was outstanding, our discipline was good, we stopped them getting many penalties and putting us under pressure from their driving maul.

“In attack, we were good, we were direct, we were pretty simple, but we played in the right areas.”

And Mallinder added: “Against an Exeter side who are scoring lots of points, it (the strong defending) is a massive positive to our game.

“Quite a lot of people are looking at the negative side and clearly we haven’t been playing well - there are parts of our attack that need to improve - but our set piece and defence has been going really well.”