Jim Mallinder: Northampton Saints boss 'realistic' about play-off chances
Northampton Saints director of rugby Jim Mallinder says defeat by Leicester leaves his side aiming at best for a top-six Premiership finish.
The 36-31 loss at Franklin's Gardens left Saints seventh in the table, six points off fourth with four games left.
It also meant a seventh straight defeat in all competitions against their East Midlands rivals.
"You never say never, but I think that's what we're aiming for," Mallinder told BBC Radio Northampton.
Northampton face a tough run-in, with away fixtures at top two Wasps and Exeter either side of a 'home' meeting with third-placed Saracens at Stadium:MK.
The 2014 champions, who failed to reach this weekend's Champions Cup quarter-finals, conclude their season with a home match against Harlequins.
"It's going to be tough, but that's the Premiership." added Mallinder.
Former Northampton Saints team manager Lennie Newman on BBC Radio Northampton:
I'm the eternal optimist but the defeat against Leicester means that's about it for Saints' top-four hopes.
It's a tough run-in and I think it will go down to the final game against Harlequins for sixth or seventh.
The story of Saints' season has been very up and down, with a lack of consistency and quite honestly putting their foot in their own mouth at times; it's annoying.