Mallinder: North ‘on fire’ in Saints’ success

Jim Mallinder (picture: Kirsty Edmonds)
Jim Mallinder (picture: Kirsty Edmonds)
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Jim Mallinder felt George North was ‘on fire’ in Saints’ comeback success against Exeter Chiefs on Friday night.

North scored one and sensationally set up another, a try of the season contender for Premiership debutant Rory Hutchinson, as Saints recovered from 13-0 and 19-14 down to win 20-19 at Franklin’s Gardens.

The Chiefs had charged ahead thanks to Olly Woodburn’s try and eight points from the boot of fly-half Gareth Steenson.

But North powered over for Saints’ first score and then ran from his own 22 to create Hutchinson’s memorable moment.

Steenson landed two second-half penalties to put Exeter back in control, but two efforts from Harry Mallinder, one of which was two minutes from time, won it for Saints.

And when asked about North’s contribution, Mallinder said: “It’s about the style we’re trying to play and when the team plays well, George enjoys it.

“You can’t make him stay on his wing but you don’t want him to come inside all the time and overchase because when you do have opportunities you want him to be on the end of the line to finish.

“It’s just getting that balance right and I think he’s on fire.

“He made 19 carries last week and though he probably didn’t quite reach as many today, all of them were effective.

“Setting up that second try was absolutely class.”

Saints finished the game with young guns Mallinder junior, Hutchinson and Sam Olver in their back line.

And Mallinder said: “It’s very good and encouraging for the future.

“It was difficult with Stephen Myler crying off with a shoulder injury. He got it last week, but trained in team run and it was a late call, but we’re pleased Harry came in and we managed to get the job done.”