Mallinder looks ahead to play-off semi-final
By Jon Wilkinson
BBC Radio Northampton
Northampton director of rugby Jim Mallinder says the club are still stinging from the memory of defeat by Saracens in last year's Premiership play-off semi-final.
went down 21-19 at Franklin's Gardens
, as Sarries advanced to the final, only to be
beaten in the dying minutes by Leicester.
Mallinder's men travel to Welford Road on Saturday to face the seven-time Premiership champions and the
Premiership Director of Rugby of the Season
is sure they will draw inspiration from last year's heartbreak.
"What I remember from [the defeat to Saracens] is the hurt," Mallinder told BBC Look East.
"It was knowing that we were on our holidays. And that'll be going through Leicester's mind - it's their last game if we beat them."
Tigers' 41-41 draw with Gloucester
in April, and the
14-15 defeat to Saracens
in March, may hint at previously unthinkable fallibility at Welford Road - but Mallinder is adamant that this East Midlands derby will present one of the sternest tests his team has faced.
"There's so much to admire about Leicester," he said.
"They're consistently up there, every single year. They have a tremendous home record and are a great side, full of internationals."
Winning is all I think about - Lawes
Although Saints look set to be with England back-row forward and
Premiership Player of the Season Tom Wood
, due to a leg injury,
the Heineken Cup finalists
have a host of international stars to pit against the Tigers.
England full-back Ben Foden, who scored a try in the
27-16 defeat to Leicester at Welford Road
in January, believes the Saints will have to be fully committed to avoid another semi-final disappointment.
"We go in as underdogs and we can't go there and give it half our effort. We've got to test Leicester and see what they've got," he said.
"They're one of those great teams who perform week in, week out. They're ready to win ugly as well as play excellent rugby.
"But I look around at the guys in our squad and know what we're capable of when we get it right."
Foden, Dylan Hartley, Chris Ashton and Courtney Lawes will be well acquainted with their England team-mates in the Tigers' squad.
Lawes says the bragging rights are significant.
"You have the banter after the game, and you want to make sure you get the best of them.
"It's not too hard to get focused. For this whole week, I've been thinking about the game. I'll really enjoy it."
The winner of the clash at Welford Road will play either Saracens or Gloucester at Twickenham on Saturday, 28 May.
"It's going to be a very, very tough game," Mallinder predicts. "But we're capable of winning it."