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Furbank: Scrappy Saints had to dig deep in Gloucester

George Furbank was thrilled with Northampton Saints’ fighting spirit on Saturday, after the fullback captained the men in Black, Green and Gold to a nail-biting 31-29 win over Gloucester at Kingsholm.

The visitors shot out of the traps, with early tries for Alex Mitchell and Alex Coles plus a first-half double from hooker Curtis Langdon handing them a 17-0 and then a 24-7 advantage before the interval.

But Gloucester wrestled back momentum with two bursts either side of the break, and Saints had to dig deep after going 29-24 behind with 20 minutes remaining.

It was a sensational try from Tom Litchfield (playing on the wing) that won the contest for Northampton, with fly-half Fin Smith also landing a nerveless conversion to snatch back the lead.

And after the breathless final passage of play which saw a late Adam Hastings penalty come up just short for the Cherry and Whites, Furbank hailed Saints’ ability to grit their teeth and stay in the fight.

“You know when you go away from home that it’s going to be a scrap, and we’ve been a lot better at staying in it,” he said.

“Our defence on the whole has been a lot better and kept us in most games. We were a bit disappointed with our defence on Saturday, but it kept us in the game at times and then ultimately our attack goes and wins it with that last try.

“We came out of the blocks flying and it felt like we were going to keep getting better, but then we had a few disciplinary things, a momentum swing, and they spent quite a bit of time down in our half and ultimately that let them back in the game.

“Something we have been a lot better at this season is riding waves of momentum. Last season, we probably ended up conceding 20 points in a row and then we were out of the game.

“But we feel like we’re able to get back to our game better this year and we know when we put our game on the pitch, we beat most sides.

“We’re getting a lot better at grabbing momentum back when teams take it from us, which is inevitable at times.”

George Furbank

Many Saints supporters will have been watching the game’s final moments from behind their sofas, as Hastings lined up the difficult chance to steal a dramatic victory from the kicking tee with the clock in the red.

Furbank admitted it was no different for those inside Kingsholm, with the fullback unable to watch the Gloucester fly-half standing over the penalty.

He said: “It was a tough kick and I wasn’t really watching it to be honest. I was just staring at the posts waiting for it to go through, but luckily Hutch [Rory Hutchinson] cleared it up when it landed short.

“I hate those moments, just waiting for the Shed to roar if it went over, but we’ll take the miss and take the win.”

Northampton headed into Christmas with the wind in their sails after five straight wins across the Gallagher Premiership and Investec Champions Cup competitions.

The men in Black, Green and Gold return to training on Boxing Day ahead of a mouth-watering clash against Sale Sharks this Saturday – with cinch Stadium at Franklin’s Gardens expecting a sold-out crowd, and just one point separating the second and third-placed sides on the Premiership ladder.

Furbank added: “You don’t get too many lives performing like we did at Gloucester, so we’ll take the five points.

“It’s a tough place to come and get five points so we’ve got to be happy with that, but we’re a bit disappointed with the performance.

“But five wins in a row going into Christmas is good and we’ve got to keep that ball rolling back in Northampton against Sale.”

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