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Chris Boyd is director of rugby at Northampton Saints
Claire Jones / RedHatPhoto.com
Chris Boyd is director of rugby at Northampton Saints
Claire Jones / RedHatPhoto.com

Boyd: Saints looking to be more ruthless in defence

Director of Rugby Chris Boyd called on his Northampton Saints side to be far more ruthless in defence following Friday evening’s 44-26 Gallagher Premiership victory over London Irish.

The men in Black, Green and Gold were in scintillating form with ball in hand, scoring six tries in total against the Exiles with Alex Mitchell and Ollie Sleightholme both crossing the whitewash twice.

Fraser Dingwall and Piers Francis also dotted down at Franklin’s Gardens, but with a critical East Midlands Derby match against Leicester Tigers looming this weekend, Boyd could not hide his frustration on the defensive side of the ball.

Irish scored four tries of their own to take a bonus-point back to London, and with Leicester on an upward trajectory this season, Boyd insists that there are plenty of areas for improvement on which Saints can focus this week.

“Sometimes you have a game of two halves,” he said. “We were very happy with our attacking game, although we did fluff a couple of opportunities.

“Defensively, we’ve got to be much more ruthless than that. Guys were dropping off tackles that don’t normally, so there will be some disappointed individuals.

“In defence you have your collective system, and then the tackle which is more personal. I think we would be aggrieved about the number of tackles we dropped off. We are reasonably happy with our attack but disappointed with the defensive effort.

“It’s nice to get five points at home and to have an eight-day turnaround, and then we get a week off after Leicester so we can throw all our eggs in one basket for next week.

“It’s a significantly different challenge to what London Irish posed. We know what’s coming and we are looking forward to the week to prepare.

“There’s room for us to be way better than that.”

Mitchell and Sleightholme caught the eye again for Northampton against Irish, with both having now scored in their last four matches for Saints.

Sleightholme in fact now has nine tries in his last six appearances in Black, Green and Gold, with Mitchell also prolific from scrum-half with five in his last four appearances, and Boyd acknowledged the pair’s clinical edge following Friday’s match.

He said: “If we give them opportunities, by and large they are going to score tries. Both of them are pretty quick.

“Ollie is finding his way to the tryline at the moment and long may that continue. He’s a very young man, and I’m sure in his career he’s going to find times when that dries up, but right now he’s in good try-scoring form.

“Alex Mitchell is a fantastically gifted rugby player, he’s just got to supplement that with the ability to run the game. He’s starting to do that much better.”

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