Northampton Saints’ bonus-point victory over Gloucester Rugby on Saturday was far from perfect according to Director of Rugby, Chris Boyd, who is challenging the side to significantly improve in the weeks ahead.
The men in Black, Green and Gold secured five points in their Gallagher Premiership opener at cinch Stadium at Franklin’s Gardens, with George Furbank, James Grayson, Nick Auterac and Tom Wood all getting on the scoresheet.
But after dominating for significant periods of the first half, and failing to put themselves out of sight on the scoreboard, Saints made life harder than it needed to be with the Cherry & Whites having a sniff of victory until the game’s final moments.
What an afternoon 🙌— Northampton Saints 😇 (@SaintsRugby) September 19, 2021
Enjoy the best of a thrilling opening day W from cinch Stadium at Franklin's Gardens.
Boyd admitted getting back to playing in front of a partisan Gardens crowd was a great feeling, but was less impressed with some of Northampton’s play despite ending up with the win.
“Yes, it’s great to be back with a noisy crowd and five points in the bag, but we were patchy and rusty,” said Boyd. “It was not a performance to be proud of, as we are capable of far better.
“We need to build the scoreboard in stages, but again we failed to do that and instead it’s 10-5 at half-time.
“It was just over-exuberance and frustration. We had about eight visits inside the 22 and came away with no points. We were impatient, and tried to score off every phase.
“It was just a bit rusty, we can’t expect to win games when you have that many 22 visits and don’t convert it into points.
“At times we played some pretty good stuff, but then again there was some really average play, so we made it hard for ourselves.”Chris Boyd, Director of Rugby
“Our set-piece was decent, as was our scrambling defence in the second half, and I was pleased that we were able to regroup to score the bonus-point try when we were under the cosh and down to 14 men.
“We let them get a few points on the board, but then pleasingly came back to get that 14-point margin – so from an outcome point of view you can’t ask for more than five points in your first game of the season.”
Furbank in particular caught the eye on the impeccable Gardens turf, crossing for Northampton’s first try of the new league campaign and then having a hand in the hosts’ three other scores.
Boyd tipped his cap to the England fullback’s contribution, and acknowledged the performances of a few other Saints – including debutant Juarno Augustus, who impressed off the bench in the second half.
Boyd said: “George is one of those rare people who sees space early and can change his plan late. With our transition game he reads defences well; he’s a top-class rugby player in my opinion.
“I thought he had a very good game today, both offensively and defensively. It doesn’t matter where he plays, 10 or 15, he does a good job for us.
“I thought James Grayson had a decent outing, Fraser Dingwall was very good too. Alex Mitchell also had patches of real brilliance, so there was plenty of stuff to hang our stuff on during the frustration.
“Juarno is a great player; he just has to get his work rate up. He needs to get his number of touches up, but he came on and had three strong carries, and an important turnover.
“Every ground has their favourites, their cult heroes, and Saturday was a pretty good start for him. If he keeps going he’ll be very popular here.”