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Hartley: We're not far off, it's all to play for

Travis PerkinsSponsored by Travis Perkins

After two round of frustrating defeats for Saints in the Aviva Premiership, first narrowly losing out to Leicester and then Wasps last weekend, the team come into this weekend’s fixture with Saracens in Milton Keynes in seventh place in the table but only five points away from fourth.

Saints’ hooker Dylan Hartley said that the frustration has been disappointing but believe Saints have shown they can compete over the last two rounds and are not far away from rounding off a victory over a top team.

“It’s the tale of our season,” Hartley commented.

“To not quite taking games when they’re on offer. With Leicester we blew three try scoring opportunities and then last weekend, and the Leicester weekend as well, we’ve shipped in about nine tries so team defence has been looked at and that’s a big work on for us.

“But it just shows that we’re not too far off but there are some underlying issues there of what needs to be rectified and corrected for us to improve as a team.

“There have been improvements in attack and we’re just a little bit off.

“But the good thing is we’ve got a huge carrot dangling in front of us; we’ve got three games left of the season and at the moment a top six finish is a priority for us so that we’re playing top flight rugby in Europe next year.

“We’ve got it all to play for, it’s a good place to be. If we were further down the table we could have just clocked off but this is a good place to be, it keeps it competitive. It keeps us working for something.

“This club’s always a good place to be and if it’s not the guys need a reality check because we’re in a privileged position. It’s always a good place to be. I try to enjoy it every day and enjoy everything I do.

“It’s a privilege to get up and come to work everyday and try to get better as a player. That’s my objective at the moment, to keep improving at the ripe age of 31. It’s a good place, we’ve got a collective drive for something.

“It might not be a top two finish like we would have liked at the start of the season but we’ve got something to drive for and that’s top six at the moment.

“This weekend, Saracens, if we win that game we put ourselves right into it and we’ve got two games after that so it’s all to play for.

“I’ve got a lot of respect for the Saracens team, a lot of them are my International teammates and I see how hard those guys work and how diligent they are with England and I’m sure they’re no different at their club.

“I’m fully respectful of them and their team and the challenge that they pose. If anything for us looking up the table and the teams above us we can learn from these guys.

“We’ll always get up for this game, we get excited, we always have good games against Saracens. It’s another big challenge and another big team for us to go at this week.

“If they’re reigning champions and they’re in a good place in European rugby then they’re one of the best teams in the country.

“We played the other best team last weekend and weren’t too far off there. Saracens have got games to play in other tournaments so we’ve got to see an opportunity this week.

“We’ve got to get excited about this challenge and go for it because we’ve got it all to play for.”

Saints are now tied on 47 Aviva Premiership league points with Harlequins in the chase for next season’s Champions Cup, and Bath and Leicester are just five points ahead in the battle for the top four. This makes this weekend’s game against Saracens all-the-more important, and every voice will count at Stadium MK. Tickets remain available from £15, so head to www.tinyurl.com/SAI-SAR-1617 to book now!

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