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Saints unfazed by Thomond in winner-takes-all clash

Northampton boss Jim Mallinder insists the Saints will adopt a no-fear approach against Heineken Cup rivals Munster in Limerick on Friday night.

The winners are set for a quarter-final place, but the odds are stacked against the English side.

Only one club -- Saints' East Midlands neighbours Leicester -- have beaten Munster in a Heineken Cup clash at Thomond Park.

Northampton's 34-0 bonus point win over Perpignan kept them firmly in Pool One contention, and Mallinder said: "We have a massive belief in ourselves as a squad. While this is going to be a huge challenge, we have beaten Munster already this season, and we go there without any fear."

Meanwhile, Munster kept top spot in Pool One with a 44-7 win at Italian side Treviso. Munster landed all the killer blows within the first 11 minutes, by which stage they'd scored three brilliant tries and were ahead 17-0.

A blur of Keith Earls' dancing feet, Denis Hurley's thundering footsteps and Doug Howlett's flowing locks left Treviso mortally wounded.

Despite the rout, coach Tony McGahan picked holes in the display, claiming: "In the second half, it was very slow ball, very dour stuff and we struggled to assert our authority.

"Unfortunately, we fell away after half-time. In the end, you would like a nice, very structured sort of game but that wasn't apparent in the game today."



humbled

Elsewhere, Harlequins head coach John Kingston believes Toulouse are good enough to reach the Heineken Cup final after the French side humbled Quins 33-21 in the south of France.

Kingston could only look on at the Stade Ernest Wallon as the French giants sealed a quarter-final place for the seventh time in eight seasons thanks to four tries from Florian Fritz, Jean Bouilhou, Cedric Heymans and Maxime Medard.

Kingston said: "If they (Toulouse) don't go all the way with the capacity they have to play at a top level, then they need to ask themselves some questions."

The result took Toulouse six points clear of Cardiff Blues and Sale Sharks in Pool Five after the Blues beat the Sharks 36-19 in the Welsh capital.

Toulouse's emphatic win takes the pressure off them in next Sunday's tricky tie at Sale Sharks, while Cardiff will want to win away at the Quins, who are still winless in the competition.


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