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Ferguson: Plenty for Saints to learn from ‘mixed bag’ performance at Ospreys

Northampton Saints might have produced a ‘mixed bag’ of a performance in a 31-24 defeat to Ospreys on Friday evening, but coach Matt Ferguson was upbeat about the men in Black, Green and Gold’s preparations for the new season.

The visitors scored two tries in either half, opening up with a penalty score before Angus Scott-Young, Tom Collins and Brandon Nansen all crossed the whitewash.

But they were pegged back in the closing stages and eventually Luke Morgan’s late effort made the difference for Ospreys.

Saints now turn their attention to opening fixtures in both the Premiership Rugby Cup and Gallagher Premiership over the next seven days, and Ferguson was adamant that Northampton will learn what they need to from the clash at Dunraven Brewery Field.

“There was a real mixed bag in there, but the biggest thing is that there will be some huge learnings,” he said.

“Although this group hates losing, we want to get better, and the best way to get better is learning.”

Matt Ferguson

“When we look at the tape on the way home, there will be some great stuff we can take away and take into the game at Sale next Friday, so that’s the biggest positive.

“We tend to not really care who we’re playing because we have a way of playing and expectations of the players to do it. Cohesion and combinations are given a bit of attention, but actually the individual skill and ability to carry that out is there to see from that.

“Coming to a preseason match and winning by a considerable amount probably wouldn’t prepare us as we want for the Premiership.

“Dows [Phil Dowson] summed it up afterwards by saying we haven’t lost any league points today, but we have gained a lot of learnings. How quickly we can take those from the video tape into next Friday night will be the real success.

“The boys have worked incredibly hard – and we needed it because it was a long five weeks before we got into the Bedford game.

“We needed this step up in opposition and there’s still a bit of work to do. We wouldn’t expect to be the finished article, so we’re looking forward to getting in this week and carrying on working.”

Saints have two fixtures ahead of them next week; first hosting Saracens on home soil in the Premiership Rugby Cup at cinch Stadium at Franklin’s Gardens, before travelling to Sale Sharks in the Gallagher Premiership’s curtain-raiser 24 hours later.

Ferguson added: “We’re really excited about the week ahead because it’s a chance to get the whole squad playing.

“There were a few boys who were disappointed to be left behind today, and now we have a great chance to see every player play over next Thursday and Friday.

“We’ll probably work backwards from picking the Premiership team for Friday, and all the boys left get a chance to put the shirt on for Thursday.

“What we care about is how good we can be as a Saints team, and we’ve seen bits from the past two games to show we can challenge anyone.”

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