Saints seeking vital victory against Stade

Louis Picamoles will look to push Saints past Stade this evening (picture: Kirsty Edmonds)
Louis Picamoles will look to push Saints past Stade this evening (picture: Kirsty Edmonds)

Jim Mallinder insists beating Stade Français tonight would not define Saints' season.

But the director of rugby does recognise just how important it is that his side secure Champions Cup qualification for next season.

If Saints can beat the French giants at Franklin's Gardens, they will take their place in Europe's top level tournament next season.

But if they lose, they would be consigned to a season in the Challenge Cup.

And that would bring real disappointment to a club that expects to be competing with Europe's elite.

"It's very important for us because we want to play top-level rugby next season," Mallinder said.

"I wouldn't say it defines the season, but we've had one of those seasons that has been full of ups and downs.

"We'd have liked to be playing at the end of the season but in the very big games for a final and that's not to be.

"We've got to deal with what we've got and that's hopefully getting a win."

Stade, who won this season's Challenge Cup, secured their place in the Champions Cup play-off final by cruising past Cardiff Blues in Paris last Friday.

And Mallinder knows just how dangerous this week's opposition will be.

"I've seen quite a lot of them," he said. "I've watched the last two in full, against Gloucester and against Cardiff.

"They're a good side and they've got a bit of everything.

"They've got a good set piece, strong in the scrum, they've got half-backs who are very experienced and will guide them around the field.

"Out wide, you've got to be careful because their wingers are very big, fast and can finish from anywhere."