Mallinder admits oversight

Saints boss forgets RFU agreement as England full-back completes a full 80 minutes

Last Updated: 23/04/11 7:16pm

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Foden: should not have played full 80 minutes for Northampton

Foden: should not have played full 80 minutes for Northampton

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Northampton coach Jim Mallinder admitted that Ben Foden's appearance for the duration of Saturday's 26-20 victory at London Irish - in breach of RFU rules - had been an oversight.

The full-back should only have played a maximum of 67 minutes of the match under the Elite Player Agreement, which limits the Saints' England players to the number of club minutes they can play.

A hectic schedule of three games in eight days should have resulted in Foden's substitution but after watching his side win a match which virtually assured them a place in the Aviva Premiership play-offs, Mallinder seemed unconcerned.

He said: "I forgot, I don't see it as an issue; I hope a sensible view will be taken. We withdrew players from playing at Gloucester on Tuesday and we've done less training this week."

Toby Booth, his Irish counterpart, said: "I'm sure the authorities will have a look at it but it's not the reason we lost the game."

Northampton were leading 23-6 with 14 minutes to go after Chris Ashton scored twice but they then had to cling on as a late fightback from the Exiles brought them two tries inside four minutes.

Ashton earned his man of the match status when his late try-saving tackle denied Topsy Ojo a potential victory-clinching score for Irish.

Hung on

Ashton referred to Northampton's European Cup semi-final against Perpignan at Milton Keynes when he said: "We played very well but then we pulled up thinking about next week's game against Perpignan but fortunately we hung on."

Mallinder added: "Perpignan have rested players this weekend so they are targeting a European Cup win.

"We shouldn't have had to play three games this week as going to Gloucester with a weakened side because of an unfit pitch should not be allowed to happen as it affects the integrity of the competition (the Premiership).

"We should have gone to Gloucester on Boxing Day (the match was postponed due to adverse weather conditions) with a full side."

But Mallinder was happy about his side's performance against Irish.

He said: "We showed good control in the game but a couple of defensive lapses in the second half nearly cost us but I'm extremely pleased we have doubled them."

Booth praised Ashton for his contribution to the victory.

He said: "We gave away two tries from turnovers with the man who will get all the headlines in the morning (Ashton) clinically finishing them off.

"At the end he comes over from the opposite wing to make a try-saving tackle on Topsy.

"I'm really disappointed but I'm proud of the way that we got back into the contest."

Ashton's two tries and 16 points from Stephen Myler proved decisive for Northampton.

Richard Thorpe and Seilala Mapusua touched down for the home side with Tom Homer kicking two conversions and two penalties.

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