Director of Rugby Chris Boyd believes that Northampton Saints’ gritty win away to Wasps on Saturday was crucial with the squad embarking on a busy run of Gallagher Premiership fixtures in the coming weeks.
Despite acknowledging that several aspects of Saints’ performance could be improved, Boyd saw the positives in coming away from the Ricoh Arena with four league points in the face of a relentless comeback effort from the hosts.
After opening up a 22-point lead, Northampton ended the first half camped out on their own line as they defended doggedly to prevent Wasps from clawing back the deficit. It was a goal-line stand that ultimately proved to be pivotal to the end result according to Boyd, given the fine margin between the teams.
“It was a classic game of two halves,” he said. “First-half we got the rub of the green and every time they got momentum, we got a penalty – but that evened up nicely over the course of 80 minutes.
“I thought we were very good for 30 minutes, and then did well to keep them out just before half-time. If we hadn’t have kept them out right at the end of the half, then would the second-half have been different? It may well have been.
“There were big moments for both sides in that game. I was pleased we took advantage of Wasps being down to 13 men. At half time 22-0 was a decent lead, but we thought that they would come out with renewed vigour and that 22 probably wasn’t enough to win, so we had to stick to our process.
“In the second half, we weren’t as accurate or clinical. It’s a good time for us to review, because to come away from the Ricoh with four points while somewhat disappointed with the performance is a not a bad place to look back at the game from.”
After back-to-back wins on the road, Saints return to Franklin’s Gardens to take on Newcastle Falcons this Saturday – the third game in a vital nine-week run of consecutive fixtures.
And Boyd insists all teams in the Premiership will be looking to find a way of securing results during this challenging period, especially given the depleted nature of squads due to international call-ups.
He added: “It’s a tough time of year. Wasps had a few of their better players missing, we had three or four of our players injured as well. This time of year tests the depth of your squad.
“You can’t accumulate enough points through the middle of this period with just 23 players, you’ve got to be deeper than that. We are happy with some of the performances of the youngsters in that regard.
“We have nine Premiership matches in a row so that will test the depth of everyone’s squad, for different reasons – be they injury, fatigue, or international duty. Everyone has a cross to bear.
“It’s that time of year where you take any positive result that you can get.”