Mallinder expects different challenge

Northampton Saints director of rugby Jim Mallinder is expecting a different type of challenge when his side taken on Bourgoin in Friday's European Challenge Cup Final at the Twickenham Stoop. [more]

Mallinder expects different challenge

Northampton Saints director of rugby Jim Mallinder is expecting a different type of challenge when his side taken on Bourgoin in Friday’s European Challenge Cup Final at the Twickenham Stoop.

Saints have faced French opposition on four occasions so far in this year’s competition, winning all four games and scoring 50 points or more during three of those encounters.

Mallinder’s squad hammered Toulon 52-11 and 56-3 home and away, while also crushing Montpellier 51-7 at Franklin’s Gardens prior to a 28-24 victory over the same opposition in the South of France.

The former Sale full back admits that Friday’s final will be an entirely different proposition, however, as Bourgoin arrive in London full of confidence and determined to leave with a victory.

"The French teams that we have played so far have probably not had that massive interest in the competition if I’m being honest,” said Mallinder.

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"This is different. This is a final where both teams will be determined and will give everything to win.

"They have played a lot in this competition and in the Heineken Cup as well, so they are an experienced side with some experienced players and some internationals as well."

Bourgoin arrive in the English capital on the back of two successive wins over English sides, having disposed of top seeds London Irish at the quarter-final stage before ending Worcester’s hopes in the last four.

Mallinder knows that such confidence will ensure Bourgoin pose a real threat to his side’s prospects and that Saints will face a far from easy task if they are to secure qualification for next season’s Heineken Cup.

"They are playing well at the moment and playing with confidence; that is the key for them," added Mallinder.

"Nobody expected them to get this far in the competition, but they have got there. They are playing well so they will be a hard team to beat."

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