In a nail-biter of a game, Saints battled hard with an improved Bristol side to make it three wins in a row with yesterday’s narrow bonus point win at Franklin’s Gardens.
Alan Dickens commended Bristol’s attack and their form in recent weeks, saying that the West Country side are like a different team than the one Saints faced back in the second game of the season under Mark Tainton.
“We talked in the changing room just now about how they’re a much improved side," Dickens told SaintsTV after yesterday's game.
"They’re a different team to the one we played second game of the season and we knew that coming into the game.
“They’re a team playing with confidence, they’re scoring tries and they’d won the last four games on the bounce in all competitions and that’s a credit to Mark Tainton who’s stepped in and he’s getting the best out of his players.”
Despite Saints looking like they were in control of the game, Bristol provided a constant battle and Dickens said that though Saints were expecting more attack from their guests other teams may get caught out if Bristol continue to play this way.
“We were eight points up and I think we lost the ball just outside the 22 and they had a scrum and they passed it down the backline, chipped it, got the luck of the bounce and scored under the posts.
“I think that was the time when we thought we were getting control to the game and that we may have been able to run away with it but it wasn’t to be, Bristol are a team that showed great character today, so credit to them. I think they will surprise a few teams this back end of the season.”
Now having won the past three games in a row in the Aviva Premiership and pushed their way from 10th position up to 5th, Dickens says that holding onto the momentum created in recent weeks is important going into the next two weeks of the European Champions Cup and then the Anglo-Welsh Cup games that follow.
“The forwards fronted up today; they put in a good performance, three of the tries were from forwards. We set out three weeks ago when Ben Foden stood in front of the squad and set themselves the goal of a minimum of 12 points and we’ve come away with 13.
“We could argue, if we’re being critical, that we perhaps should have got an extra point against Sale here two weeks ago but 13 points in the last three games is a positive and we just need to continue that momentum.
“We do need to keep the momentum but we’ve got a game next week, it’s a home against Castres and we want to put in a good performance.
“We’ll pick a team that we think can win the game and then we’ll go onto Montpellier in two weeks time.
“After that two weeks of Anglo-Welsh action and then when we come back into the Premiership after those competitions is when the Six Nations is on so again that will mean that players within in the squad will need to step up and perform.”