NORTHAMPTON’S form at Franklin’s Gardens (bar that slip against Quins) is exceptional going into the quarter-finals of the Heineken Cup and I would expect them to cap their 37-0 win over Edinburgh by winning in Castres and grabbing a home draw in the quarter-finals.
Last season the Saints learnt so much from their European campaign and much of that came home to roost against Edinburgh when they produced one of the great European performances since they lifted the trophy 11 years ago.
Make no mistake – Edinburgh are no mugs so to ‘nil’ them and score that many points is exceptional from the Saints. And Jim Mallinder will be delighted that the star of the show is one of the club’s unsung heroes; Paul Diggin.
Munster’s success in Europe is of course based on the stars like O’Connell and O’Gara but without their unsung heroes they would never have won the Heineken Cup.
Coach Jim Mallinder said: “He’s not the fastest in the league but he gets in some very good positions and understands the game, he played very well.
‘Our defence was good, our set-piece was much improved but in the middle part of the game our accuracy let us down.
“We are delighted to be in the quarter-finals, it’s a great step for the club and we’ll try and get a home semi-final.”
Edinburgh coach Rob Moffat had to admit the inevitable
“Northampton had too much control,” he said.
“They pressurised us into making too many mistakes. We panicked and made a whole lot of errors.
“They have a good pack at the top of their game. It was always going to be difficult coming here and we gave away a couple of soft tries.
“We created a bit in the first half but we made mistakes at crucial times when we looked threatening.”