Mallinder knows Saints must improve in key areas

Saints boss Jim Mallinder (picture: Kirsty Edmonds)
Saints boss Jim Mallinder (picture: Kirsty Edmonds)

Jim Mallinder says Saints must step things up in defence and in the scrum in the weeks and months to come.

The director of rugby has seen his side lose their past five matches, shipping 28 tries in the process.

Saints have been made to suffer up front at times, with Exeter Chiefs turning the screw in the set piece at Sandy Park last weekend.

Mallinder's men lost that Anglo-Welsh Cup match 43-28 after conceding seven tries.

And the Saints boss said: "If we look at the tries they scored last weekend in isolation, there were reasons for it.

"If you make an error against a good side against Exeter anywhere on the field, they're going to go through and you're going to get exposed.

"It's tough learning, particularly for some of the young lads, but hopefully we are learning all the time from it.

"It's been a big emphasis for us in training this week and I'm looking forward to seeing some improvements against the Dragons on Saturday."

So just how concerned have the coaches been about Saints' defence in recent times?

"It's clearly an area we need to get better in," Mallinder said.

"Attacks are getting better, we've seen that with pitches being better teams are scoring more tries and we are scoring more tries than what we have done.

"But clearly your defence is very important and you need to make sure you're not conceding as many as we are."

And on the scrum struggles, Mallinder said: "If you look at the Opta stats - and I know they don't tell everything, but it's an interesting thing to look at - we've got the best scrum on our ball in the Premiership whereas on defensive ball we've got one of the worst records.

"We're probably not as dominant as we have been in the past, even on our own ball, but we are looking to play a little bit more from the scrum so that makes a bit of difference.

"Defensively, we have been poor, we've been conceding too many penalties and that's an area, again, that we need to get better at."