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London Welsh 19:45 Gloucester

Aviva Premiership: Ben Foden back to help Northampton at crucial time of season

Last Updated: 01/03/14 8:39pm

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Northampton boss Jim Mallinder felt Ben Foden looked "particularly sharp" on his return from injury in the 39-13 win over Gloucester.

Foden made his comeback from knee ligament trouble in the Aviva Premiership fixture at Franklin's Gardens, coming off the bench for his first appearance since November.

"Ben is realistic enough to know where he is at the moment. We know he's a quality player who is a good international player."
Jim Mallinder

The England international will be a welcome addition to the Saints squad as they prepare to fight on three fronts over the closing months of the campaign - they are next in LV= Cup action, taking on Saracens in the semi-finals.

"I was really delighted to see Ben Foden back, he was particularly sharp," said Mallinder.

"That's pleasing for us now and fingers crossed he can have a really good run-in until the end of the season.

"Ben is realistic enough to know where he is at the moment. We know he's a quality player who is a good international player.

"He's had a long lay-off, he won't expect to walk into an international team, particularly when someone like Mike Brown is playing so well.

"So he knows what he's got to do, and that's find his form playing for Northampton.

"And I think if he can do that then there's no reason why Stuart won't be looking at him, hopefully sooner rather than later.

"Ben Foden needs games now, so he'll be involved in the LV= Cup game against Saracens, definitely."

Ken Pisi, Calum Clark, Tom Stephenson, Alex Waller and Will Hooley claimed Northampton's tries, with Stephen Myler slotting four conversions and two penalties.

Henry Trinder grabbed Gloucester's solitary score, with Freddie Burns kicking the rest of their points. At one stage they were level at 13-13 before falling away badly in the second half.

Crucial replacements

"I think the replacements did a really good job, it was a question of looking after the ball and continuing to apply pressure," added Mallinder.

"We were guilty, particularly in that first half, of even though we created chances, trying to force the ball.

"In the second half the replacements came on, and I think it was a continued pressure. We made the changes, and a massive scrum on their ball, and that pressure just counted in the end."

Gloucester's 11th defeat of the season leaves them in ninth place, with rugby director Nigel Davies frustrated not to capitalise on the previous week's win over Harlequins.

"We didn't impose ourselves on any aspect of the game today, I'm really disappointed," said Davies.

"We were inaccurate, we gave away sloppy penalties, and you can't afford to do that against a team of this quality.

"The most disappointing thing for me is that we didn't have control in any single aspect of the match."

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