The Northampton Saints team will go into Sunday’s Heineken Cup semi-final with confidence but also with plenty of respect for Perpignan, according to director of rugby Jim Mallinder.

The Saints locked horns with the Catalan giants twice in the Heineken Cup pool stages, with each team winning their respective home match. But with the visiting team likely to contain plenty of players with experience of big occasions Mallinder said today that his team will have no illusions as to the challenge ahead of them at stadium:mk.

“Perpignan have got to successive French championship finals, winning one of them, and they are used to playing in big occasions,” the Saints boss commented. “They have plenty of quality players, a big pack and lots of strike runners out wide, and their overall team will take some stopping.

“We may have played each other last season, but those matches will have no bearing on Sunday’s game. It is a semi-final and in knockout rugby it only comes down to who can score more points on the day. Nothing else matters.

“But we have had some good performances and are capable of getting a positive result this weekend.”

Tickets remain available for Sunday’s game via the MK Dons’ website, and Mallinder added that the backing of the Saints supporters in the stands will give the team a massive boost.

“The quarter final in Milton Keynes had a superb atmosphere, which was down to the fans,” he said. “This is a massive game for the whole club and it will mean a great deal to the players and support staff if there is a packed stadium filled with Saints supporters.”

Heineken Cup semi-final
Sunday, May 1st, 2011
Kick off 3:00pm
15 Ben Foden
14 Chris Ashton
13 Jon Clarke
12 James Downey
11 Paul Diggin
10 Stephen Myler
9 Lee Dickson
1 Soane Tonga’uiha
2 Dylan Hartley (capt)
3 Brian Mujati
4 Courtney Lawes
5 Christian Day
6 Calum Clark
7 Phil Dowson
8 Roger Wilson

16 Brett Sharman
17 Alex Waller
18 Tom Mercey
19 Mark Sorenson
20 Mark Easter
21 Stuart Commins
22 Shane Geraghty
23 Joe Ansbro