Director of Rugby Chris Boyd believes his Northampton Saints side improved in ‘critical moments’ of the match as they turned recent results around to beat Wasps on Sunday afternoon.
The men in Black, Green and Gold ended a run of four straight defeats in the Gallagher Premiership with the 27-22 triumph, as Alex Mitchell, James Grayson, Alex Waller and Courtnall Skosan all crossed the whitewash to secure a bonus-point win.
The result keeps Saints in the hunt for the league’s play-off places, with Northampton sitting eighth but only eight points from the top four with a game in hand on several of the sides ahead of them on the ladder.
A special afternoon for our two Milestone Men, and a BP win for good measure 🙌— Northampton Saints 😇 (@SaintsRugby) March 14, 2022
Highlights are now up from another Gardens cracker.
But for Boyd, it was just as important to send the home crowd of almost 15,000 home with a smile on their faces after some frustratingly narrow defeats in recent weeks.
“We had a few critical moments and built ourselves a bit of a lead, tried to give away some opportunities to Wasps with a few brain explosions, but thankfully we managed to hold out,” he said.
“We’ve challenged ourselves around whether we’ve been playing well and losing, and whether we’re playing the right way, so that’s been a bit of a test for us in recent weeks.
“On Sunday, I don’t think we were necessarily any better or worse than we have for the last month, we just won a couple more moments and finally got five points.
“I said to Phil Dowson as we were waiting for the second half to start that if you were a neutral here, and you weren’t emotionally connected to it, was a pretty good spectacle from an entertainment point of view. The finishing in the first half wasn’t bad and in the second half that continued.
“It’s a great crowd here at the Gardens, it’s fantastic playing here – especially when it’s full – it was a nice day too, you’d say it was a reasonable day’s entertainment.”Chris Boyd, Director of Rugby
It was a day to remember not only for a crucial Premiership win, but also as Alex Waller and David Ribbans celebrated milestone appearances for Saints.
Loosehead Waller broke the league record for appearances made by a prop forward, while Ribbans notched up his 100th cap in Black, Green and Gold in the second row, and Boyd tipped his cap to the achievements of both Club stalwarts.
He said: “They’re great competitors. Alex is evergreen, he just keeps going and going. He’s just one of those guys that flies under the radar a bit, but he seldom puts in a bad shift.
“He’s now the most-capped prop of all time in the Premiership, he’s a massive servant to the Club but also a really good bloke, a really good team man. I’m really pleased for him.
“Dave Ribbans has played really well for us, consistently for the last two or three years to be honest. He was our Player of the Year last year, his form has continued this year and I was really pleased the team could finally get across the line on his 100th game. He’s a trooper.”
While Saints kept themselves in the running for a top-four Premiership finish with the win, attention turns back to the Premiership Rugby Cup this weekend as Northampton travel to north London to face Saracens.
“We’re up for that scrap in the Premiership. At the end of the day, we finished fifth last year and that’s not a nice place to finish,” Boyd added.
“We’re still there or thereabouts, mathematically we’re still close. We’ll probably need to win four or five of our last six games to get into that top four, but who knows – one of the sides above us might win every game and take it out of our hands.
“All we can do is focus on what we can control, and that will be turning up for what will be some tough match ups in the next few rounds.
“This week it’s back to the Premiership Rugby Cup, and we’ll get to see all of the guys who are knocking the door down for a chance to play.
“A lot of guys who played on Sunday will get a week of regeneration. We’ll have some youngsters and surprise packages in the squad for Saracens, so it will be a nice mixture there.”