Northampton not out of the title race insists Jim Mallinder

Saints beaten 17-16 by Saracens yesterday

Northampton director of rugby Jim Mallinder believes it would be foolish to dismiss Saints from the Aviva Premiership title race.

The midlands club, who have been hindered by inconsistency this season, sank to sixth in the table following yesterday's 17-16 defeat by Saracens at Stadium MK, two points adrift of the play-offs.

Mallinder insists Saints enjoy being in a position where they are given little chance.

"The lads gave everything and it was a tremendous effort from them. I'm very proud. It went down to the wire, we just didn't get the bounce of the ball," Mallinder said.

"We'd like to be top of the league like every single club, but we're realistic and know that we haven't played as well as we'd have liked in every game.

"But we also know that we're a good side and have proved that. There's not a lot in the top teams. Even though we're in mid-table, we're not out of the running.

"There will be a few people that have written us off. We quite like that and there's a long way to go. We're looking forward to the second half of the season."

Relieved Saracens director of rugby Mark McCall insisted the intervention of the woodwork led to the correct result in Milton Keynes.

Saints fly-half Stephen Myler struck the crossbar with the final kick of the match to ensure Saracens held on for a win that restores them to second place in the table.

It was a valiant attempt from Myler taken five metres from inside his own half, but McCall felt it was the right outcome in light of Saracens' superiority.

"Of course it would have been a sick feeling to lose it at the end," McCall said.

"Sometimes you lose and that is fine but when you are on top, like we felt we were on top, it would have been disappointing."

Harlequins remain at the summit of the Premiership after dispatching London Irish 26-15 on Saturday, ensuring the top four remains unchanged after the 12th round of games.

Wasps climbed to fifth with a 34-15 triumph at London Welsh while bottom placed Sale's 33-27 win over Worcester leaves them just one point off London Irish in 11th.

PA

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