Whenever, Wherever Shakira
22 March 2010, 07:25
Northampton are still on course for a possible hat trick of trophies this season after yesterday's success at Worcester.
For Saints director of rugby Jim Mallinder it's definitely mission accomplished after a thrilling 30-24 LV Cup final victory over Gloucester, which also secured qualification for the Heineken Cup next term.
And with Saints' current Heineken and Guinness Premiership campaigns offering hope of further silverware, the best could be yet to come.
"We set out that we wanted to win something at the start of the season, and now we've done that,'' said Mallinder. "It was a cup final and you are always going to be a bit nervous, but Gloucester came out to play rugby and so did we. It's no good just being in three competitions if you don't win anything, so at least we have won something now and we can tick that one off and move on.
"Cup finals are all about winning. You would take 3-0 in a final, but it is more encouraging when you can go out and play like that. It shows how far the side has progressed, and it was great for our fantastic set of fans who have supported us through thick and thin. It was special."
Saints' pulsating triumph at Sixways was secured through tries by outstanding prop prop Soane Tonga'uiha, centre James Downey and scrum-half Lee Dickson in a game where the lead changed hands five times.
Fly-half Stephen Myler's 100% goalkicking return harvested 15 points, and that proved the difference against a Gloucester side that underlined its post-Christmas resurgence.
Myler's opposite number Nicky Robinson kicked 14 points, including the conversion of a penalty try, while flanker Akapusi Qera also touched down, but Saints deservedly shaded an epic tussle.
"The win will give us a lot of confidence,'' added Mallinder. "It is a tournament you have got to work hard in, and we have still got a chance in two other competitions, so there is plenty to play for.''