Mallinder: Champions Cup clash with Saracens will be a step up

Jim Mallinder (picture: Sharon Lucey)
Jim Mallinder (picture: Sharon Lucey)

Jim Mallinder says Saints’ Champions Cup quarter-final at Saracens will be a ‘real step up’ from Saturday’s Aviva Premiership encounter at Allianz Park.

But he knows his men will be able to go into the April 9 encounter will plenty of confidence after claiming their third win in four Aviva Premiership visits to Sarries’ home ground.

Tries from Stephen Myler and Lee Dickson helped secure a superb 20-15 success against the Premiership table-toppers on Saturday.

Both sides were shorn of a number of key men due to international call-ups and injuries, but Saints were happy to pocket the four points.

And when asked whether his team had landed an important psychological blow ahead of the European clash between the two sides, Saints boss Mallinder said: “Any win down at Saracens is good.

“I know they’ve got internationals away, like us, and they’ve got injuries and suspensions, but any win down at Allianz Park is good.

“It’s pleasing, but I think it will be a different game come the Champions Cup. It will be a different intensity, a real step up from last Saturday.

“But we’ve proven last weekend and on previous occasions that we can go down there and win.”

Saints’ win at Saracens was their fourth in their past five matches, with the one-point defeat at Newcastle Falcons in February the only blot on the copybook.

Mallinder’s men will now hope to enhance their good run by beating Sale Sharks at Franklin’s Gardens on Saturday.

And the director of rugby said: “We’ve had some good wins away from home, as well as a few disappointments this year, so it’s pleasing that we’ve won at Saracens.

“We’ve won four out of five, which is a good run to be on, so I guess all we’ve got to focus on now is Sale at home this week.”