The opening weekend of this season’s Anglo-Welsh Cup ended with a win on the road for Saints at Newcastle Falcons yesterday after tries from Tom Collins and Rory Hutchinson got the score to 24-16 at Kingston Park.
Now top of Pool 1 after Saracens and Bath lost their respective games and Newport Gwent Dragons yet to open their campaign, Saints come into this weekend’s fixture against Gloucester Rugby at Franklin’s Gardens in the best position.
Academy Coach Mark Hopley was delighted with the result and said that as a club Saints will take a lot of momentum from that win going forward.
“It was immensely pleasing to get the win,” Hopley told SaintsTV after yesterday’s game.
“The pleasing thing for me is that everyone who took to the field today was desperate for the win and desperate to do well for this club. For me as a coach and for all the coaches that’s pleasing to see.”
Six players made their debut for the first team at Kingston Park last night. Back row forward and product of the Academy Lewis Ludlam made his first appearance in a senior Saints shirt as part of the starting fifteen while fellow Academy players James Fish, Alex Moon and Devante Onojaife, along with Saints’ summer signings Juan Pablo Estelles and Matt Beesely, made their debuts from the bench.
As an Academy Coach, Hopley was pleased to see Saints’ young guns getting game time in the Anglo-Welsh Cup and facing the experienced opposition that Falcons presented yesterday.
“As an Academy we exist to try and bring players through to the first team and we’ve been pretty successful in the past doing that.
“Hopefully we can keep that supply chain coming and give Jim and the coaches some good options to pick from.”
Saints’ younger stars were joined by some more experienced faces, including skipper for the night Christian Day, and Hopley said that while it was important to give the younger players a chance to stretch their legs to have the senior players around keep them grounded was essential.
“It’s massive to have your senior players there and settle the younger guys around them and almost put them in the right parts of the pitch and to make those decisions at crucial times.
“I thought Christian Day and Jamie Gibson took a lot of pressure off us in terms of the work they did at lineouts; Newcastle couldn’t get into the game in that area.
“Luther Burrell in the middle of the pitch was helping out the younger guys around him.
“It was brilliant to see Luther and Christian back after a lay-off, that’s good for the squad going forward.”