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Dowson: All roads lead to Premiership semi-finals

Director of Rugby Phil Dowson admitted he was left ‘disappointed and frustrated’ after Northampton Saints were defeated on the final day of the regular Gallagher Premiership season by Bath at the Recreation Ground.

The away side went into the break 17-5 behind as a James Ramm score on the 40-minute mark kept Saints within touching distance.

But Bath pulled away in the second half, with four further tries as Saints were only able to muster a consolation effort through Tom Seabrook a couple of minutes before the end of the contest.

“It was disappointing and frustrating because we didn’t perform as we wanted to in different facets of the game,” Dowson said.

“There’s some good experience for us as a group and as coaches as well in terms of how we can be better. We felt we had enough quality (to win the game), we just didn’t get it right on the day for lots of reasons.”

Phil Dowson, Director of Rugby

“We’ve got to make sure we look at ourselves first. It was quite a chastening experience because we were on the back foot for lots of it and we didn’t fire a shot in the first 30 minutes.

“At 17-5 down at half-time, we felt we were really in the game, but we conceded immediately after half-time. Small things in the game matter, and we didn’t get those things right.

“Bath are a very good side, a semi-finalist as well, but I would never focus on the opposition, I’m focused on what we’re trying to do, and we weren’t good enough.”

Despite the loss, Saints finished the regular season top of the table for the first time since 2015, and for only the second time in their history.

“It’s testament to everyone involved in the organisation who have worked tirelessly over a very long period of time.”

Phil Dowson, Director of Rugby

“We also know there’s one more game definitely, hopefully two more, and we don’t need to worry about the league table because there’s no trophy for that. We need to focus on the next game.”

And with Saints securing top spot in the Gallagher Premiership table, they have set themselves up with a home semi-final against Saracens on Friday 31 May (Kick-off: 7:45pm) at cinch Stadium at Franklin’s Gardens.

“It’s going to be very special,” Dowson added. “Any of those sides we could have got; Sale, Bath and Quins or Bristol, who could have made it, are going to be a dangerous group.

“We know that Friday night is going to be bouncing at the Gardens and we’ve got two weeks to prepare for it. We’ve got to make sure all roads lead to that semi-final and that we put a performance together.”

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