Director of Rugby Chris Boyd insists that the quality of performance from Northampton Saints is trending in the right direction ahead of Boxing Day’s crucial visit of Worcester Warriors.
The men in Black, Green and Gold produced a spirited display on Saturday, despite losing out to Pro14 Champions Leinster in Dublin.
Tries came from Fraser Dingwall, Tom James and Nick Isiekwe as Saints challenged the Irish side throughout, putting 19 points on a team that otherwise has enjoyed an excellent defensive record so far this season.
Citing the significant experience and depth of the Leinster squad, Boyd stated his satisfaction with parts of the Saints performance that will give the squad something to build from going into a crucial run of Christmas fixtures in the Gallagher Premiership.
“To chase the game down after some early errors was tough, but there were certainly patches that we were happy with and we learned something about a few people,” he said. “The performance was as important as anything for us.”
“I looked at the Leinster side that was announced and there’s a massive number of international caps there.
“We have guys that were making their European debuts and there were five guys that had 10 caps or less for the Club, so it’s a young group.
“They’re learning as fast as they can, but you can’t replace experience – and that’s a hell of a good squad that Leinster have got.
“We’ve got probably half a dozen guys to come back into the team for this week against Worcester. We’ll pick the bones out of the Champions Cup game, and obviously playing home on Boxing Day is a very important match for us from a league point of view.”
Throughout Saturday’s clash, Saints showed impressive line speed in defence, allowing Boyd’s side to bring a high level of physicality into the collisions around the fringes.
The men in Black, Green and Gold frustrated Leinster for large periods of the contest on Saturday with a total of 16 defensive turnovers being won – four more than the hosts.
Boyd added: “We made some defensive lapses, but generally the intent was really good. It probably didn’t show on the TV but it was quite windy, it was actually quite difficult to play. Both sides were aggressive on their line speed.
“We haven’t lacked intent all year, we’ve tried really hard. The attitude of the players is absolutely not missing.
“We’ve just been inaccurate for periods of time. Our challenge is to be more consistent for longer periods of time – we know we have the capability.”