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Phil Dowson is Director of Rugby at Northampton Saints
Claire Jones / RedHatPhoto.com
Phil Dowson is Director of Rugby at Northampton Saints
Claire Jones / RedHatPhoto.com
Rugby

Dowson: Saints ‘resilient and relentless’ in emphatic Newcastle win

Director of rugby Phil Dowson was delighted with the relentless nature of Northampton Saints’ performance during their emphatic 66-5 victory over Newcastle Falcons on Friday.

Saints travelled to Kingston Park for what was their final game of the regular season in the Gallagher Premiership, knowing they had to come home from the North East with a victory to give themselves a chance of finishing in a semi-final position.

They had only previously won on their travels once during the campaign and the nerves among the travelling supporters will not have been eased when Adam Radwan’s fourth-minute try put Newcastle ahead.

However, once Alex Mitchell’s converted score got Saints off the mark, they never looked back as it was the first of ten occasions where the men in Black, Green and Gold crossed the whitewash.

Dowson said: “I thought we were very clinical. Despite the pressure, we executed our game plan, which we haven’t been particularly good at away from home this season, and we were relentless in how we did it.

“We talked about being resilient and relentless, so when Radwan scored I thought there was no panic, we showed good composure to get back into the game and take the sting out of them.”

Phil Dowson, Director of Rugby

Saints’ attacking performance stole the headlines, although this was a side of their game familiar to everyone – they are, after all, the leading try scorers in the Premiership this season.

It is preventing the opposition from scoring that has proven to be the problem for much of the campaign, although this was not the case against the Falcons, who were kept scoreless following Radwan’s early opener.

It was this aspect of the game that particularly pleased Dowson, with Mitchell’s magnificent try-saving tackle on Radwan during the first half (with the score at 21-5) typifying what was a resolute display out of possession.

Dowson said: “I think that’s the most positive thing. We know we can attack, we know we can create opportunities.

“But there were loads of defensive sets where we held them back and we had the opportunity to make them kick the ball back to us, so we held them out for those periods of time and we didn’t concede line breaks.

“They scored one and the rest of the time we hustled back, we worked hard for each other, we made them go one more phase, we forced errors.”

Phil Dowson, Director of Rugby

“That one with Mitch was a good example of just busting to get back.”

Saints’ thumping win consolidated their place in the top four, ensuring London Irish were the only team capable of overhauling them ahead of their match against league leaders Saracens on Sunday.

Given the final round of regular-season fixtures on the first weekend of May is Saints’ rest week, and the fact they bowed out of European competition back in January, there was a risk of them being undercooked for the semi-finals should they make them.

They will, however, have an opportunity to keep themselves sharp in Saturday’s match against Leicester Tigers at cinch Stadium at Franklin’s Gardens.

Dowson said: “It’s three weeks. If we get to the play-offs, that’s a long period of time to not play any rugby, so the Leicester game sits in that space to get us some rugby and to give players who are leaving the chance to say ‘goodbye’.

“I think that’s a good opportunity for us to keep working on our game in a live environment.”

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