Northampton Saints’ stand-in skipper Teimana Harrison admits leading the side out at Franklin’s Gardens ahead of a derby victory over Leicester Tigers last weekend was a dream come true.
The men in Black, Green and Gold secured a 47-20 bonus-point victory to top Pool C and confirmed themselves as semi-finalists in the Premiership Rugby Cup, with Harrison captaining the side for the first time in his Northampton career..
Saints ran in seven tries against their East Midlands rivals, but have to wait until Sunday to find out whether they have a home semi-final and who awaits them in the next round.
“To beat Leicester to make the semi-finals gave it that much more meaning for us.”Teimana Harrison
Harrison, 26, is in line for his most prolific season at Franklin’s Gardens to date – making 18 appearances so far, scoring three tries, and signing a new contract to keep him in Northampton until 2022 earlier this month.
And with a semi-final now in the bag in Chris Boyd’s first campaign at the helm, the tenacious back-rower believes his side are on track to pick up some silverware this season.
“It was a dream captaincy debut,” Harrison said. “We spoke about the game being massive for us, not only because it was against Leicester, but because it was a chance at a semi-final for this group.
“We are on a good path to silverware, so we are really happy.
“To beat Leicester to make the semi-finals gave it that much more meaning for us – we were over the moon with that result.
“They came out firing and we spoke all week about how if we gave them a sniff, they were going to be a dangerous team.
“You look at our young guys fighting for a spot in the first team, they are all putting their hands up, and Leicester’s guys were the same. It was a massive opportunity for them to come and turn us over and blow our hopes at a semi-final.
“Our boys are hungry; they want their spot and Chris Boyd said that game was an opportunity for some – if you play well, you will play again, so a lot of the boys had points to prove.
“Credit to the boys, I asked for a 100 percent buy-in from everybody for 80 minutes and they did. It started showing in the last ten minutes when Jamie Gibson gets that intercept and gives it to Cobus [Reinach] who ran the length of the pitch.”
Saints can put their feet up this weekend and watch the Premiership Rugby Cup action unfold, safe in the knowledge they are through to the knock-out stages of the competition.
But while they will have one eye on the coming days’ results, with Northampton’s semi-final opponents not yet decided, Harrison admits the whole squad is relishing the prospect of a rest week away from rugby.
He added: “We are in the middle of a week off now, and Chris just said to be smart and responsible as we still have a lot of rugby to play.
“It’s a nice regeneration week for a lot of the guys to get away, get some sun or spend time with family – and a relaxed week will allow us to come back even stronger for the semi-final.”