Mallinder and Wood show leadership qualities

Northampton Saints 30 Saracens 8

Franklin's Gardens

If England seek an example of how quickly fortunes can turn, then Northampton provided one in the Aviva Premiership last night. After a fortnight of European rugby they would rather forget, they took on the champion club - who had won 19 of their previous twenty Premiership games - and gave them the worst drubbing they have suffered for many a day.

With a wonderful display of accuracy and opportunism, Northampton scored three first-half tries and did much to eradicate the desperate perception of English rugby which exists after the negativity of the past week. Saracens played their part and the game demonstrated the domestic game's best qualities, in which both sides looked for a game of width and skill.

Inevitably, the gaping holes in the England fabric remain an issue: the name of Jim Mallinder (pictured), Northampton's director of rugby, will continue to be linked to the England coaching job while Tom Wood, man of the match against Saracens, is a live candidate to be the next captain.

Mallinder, far more comfortable talking about his players than his own prospects, emphasised the leadership skills that Wood produces every day for Northampton: "I don't want to criticise England selection... but what I do know is that Tom for us is an outstanding rugby player and I would want him in my team any day," he said.

As for the vacant England coaching role, Mallinder says it would be an honour to be offered the chance but that no such offer had been made: "At some stage in my career I would love to coach England," he said. "It would have to be an unbelievable offer for me to leave what we have here." Nor was he talking about money, rather about the terms and conditions of the job.

Northampton's success carried them to fourth place in the table, reminding a packed house of last season's charge to the Heineken Cup final, and ended the run of five Premiership wins by Saracens in this fixture. Here, though, they hit the buffers against a Northampton team driven by the tempo of Lee Dickson's game at scrum-half and the tactical nous of Ryan Lamb, his half-back partner.

Dickson, in his 100th game for the club, scored the first of his side's three tries. Lamb played with his head up and looked a far better prospect than Owen Farrell, his opposite number. Farrell had one of those days when his line kicking lacked accuracy and when his passing only seemed to provide Northampton with opportunities to test their aggressive defence, meat and drink to a voracious home back row.

Ben Foden created the first try, running powerfully before George Pisi weighed in twice on the left and Dickson finished. Pisi enjoyed himself at centre, never more so than when James Downey off-loaded wonderfully well in the tackle, giving Pisi time and space to step round David Strettle and outstrip the cover for the second try.

The third came when Phil Dowson was driven over from a close-range line-out and, with Lamb adding a drop-goal to his three conversions, the bonus-point try in the second half seemed inevitable. But Saracens tightened their game, dominated territory, leaving Ernst Joubert to have the last word with a try.

Northampton B Foden; C Ashton, G Pisi (J Clarke, 73), J Downey, J Elliott; R Lamb (S Myler, 63), L Dickson (M Roberts, 59); S Tonga'uiha (A Waller, 59), D Hartley (captain; M Haywood, 68), P Doran-Jones (B Mujati, 52), C Lawes (S Manoa, 63), M Sorenson, P Dowson, R Wilson (B Nutley, 68), T Wood.

Saracens A Goode; D Strettle (A Powell, 52), C Wyles, B Barritt, J Short (D Taylor, 77); O Farrell, B Spencer (L Baldwin, 64); R Gill (D Carstens, 52), J Smit (J George, 59), C Nieto (M Stevens, 41), S Borthwick (captain), M Botha (G Kruis, 52), K Brown (J Wray, 59), E Joubert, J Burger.

Referee D Pearson (Northumberland).


Tries: Dickson, Pisi, Downton

Cons: Lamb 3

Pens: Lamb 2

Drop goal: Lamb


Try: Joubert

Pen: Farrell

Mosul dam was retaken with the help of the US
voicesRobert Fisk: Barack Obama is following the jihadists’ script
Arts and Entertainment
Loaded weapon: drugs have surprise side effects for Scarlett Johansson in Luc Besson’s ‘Lucy’
filmReview: Lucy, Luc Besson's complex thriller
A cleaner prepares the red carpet for the opening night during the 59th International Cannes Film Festival May 17, 2006 in Cannes, France.
newsPowerful vacuum cleaners to be banned under EU regulations
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
A polar bear’s diet is rich in seal blubber and half of its own body weight is composed of fat
Life and Style
fashion David Beckham fronts adverts for his underwear collection
Flocking round: Beyoncé, Madame Tussauds' latest waxwork, looking fierce in the park
travelIn a digital age when we have more access than ever to the stars, why are waxworks still pulling in crowds?
Arts and Entertainment
Jeremy Clarkson has rejected criticisms of his language, according to BBC director of television Danny Cohen
Arts and Entertainment
Judi Dench appeared at the Hay Festival to perform excerpts from Shakespearean plays
tvJudi Dench and Hugh Bonneville join Benedict Cumberbatch in BBC Shakespeare adaptations
Arts and Entertainment
Is this how Mario Balotelli will cruise into Liverpool?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

The President came the nearest he has come yet to rivalling George W Bush’s gormless reaction to 9/11 , says Robert Fisk
Ebola outbreak: Billy Graham’s son declares righteous war on the virus

Billy Graham’s son declares righteous war on Ebola

A Christian charity’s efforts to save missionaries trapped in Africa by the crisis have been justifiably praised. But doubts remain about its evangelical motives
Jeremy Clarkson 'does not see a problem' with his racist language on Top Gear, says BBC

Not even Jeremy Clarkson is bigger than the BBC, says TV boss

Corporation’s head of television confirms ‘Top Gear’ host was warned about racist language
Nick Clegg the movie: Channel 4 to air Coalition drama showing Lib Dem leader's rise

Nick Clegg the movie

Channel 4 to air Coalition drama showing Lib Dem leader's rise
Philip Larkin: Misogynist, racist, miserable? Or caring, playful man who lived for others?

Philip Larkin: What will survive of him?

Larkin's reputation has taken a knocking. But a new book by James Booth argues that the poet was affectionate, witty, entertaining and kind, as hitherto unseen letters, sketches and 'selfies' reveal
Madame Tussauds has shown off its Beyoncé waxwork in Regent's Park - but why is the tourist attraction still pulling in the crowds?

Waxing lyrical

Madame Tussauds has shown off its Beyoncé waxwork in Regent's Park - but why is the tourist attraction still pulling in the crowds?
Texas forensic astronomer finally pinpoints the exact birth of impressionism

Revealed (to the minute)

The precise time when impressionism was born
From slow-roasted to sugar-cured: how to make the most of the British tomato season

Make the most of British tomatoes

The British crop is at its tastiest and most abundant. Sudi Pigott shares her favourite recipes
10 best men's skincare products

Face it: 10 best men's skincare products

Oscar Quine cleanses, tones and moisturises to find skin-savers blokes will be proud to display on the bathroom shelf
Malky Mackay allegations: Malky Mackay, Iain Moody and another grim day for English football

Mackay, Moody and another grim day for English football

The latest shocking claims do nothing to dispel the image that some in the game on these shores exist in a time warp, laments Sam Wallace
La Liga analysis: Will Barcelona's hopes go out of the window?

Will Barcelona's hopes go out of the window?

Pete Jenson starts his preview of the Spanish season, which begins on Saturday, by explaining how Fifa’s transfer ban will affect the Catalans
Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape