Northampton Saints centre Rory Hutchinson admitted some frank words during the week had been the catalyst for a much-improved display against Newcastle Falcons on Saturday.
The men in Black, Green and Gold went into the clash at Kingston Park off the back of consecutive Gallagher Premiership defeats to Harlequins and Saracens, but scored five times in the North East to romp to a 44-8 victory.
The bonus-point success lifted Saints up to fifth in the league standings at the halfway point of the season.
While he knows Northampton are by no means the finished product yet, Hutchinson believes some honest words from several members of the squad in the days leading up to the clash were key in helping Saints get back on track.
“You can’t sugar-coat things, and sometimes you need to have those honest conversations in the week,” he said.
“We want to work as a team to get better, and if you avoid the problems, you aren’t going to solve them.
“We all respected everything that was said over the past few days; we took it all on board, and now we can hopefully kick on from here.
“We’re working hard on our discipline in particular. We know we’re one of the most-penalised sides in the league, so we want to make that better, but in no way does that mean we’re going to allow ourselves to get pushed around.”
An attacking feast 🤤— Northampton Saints 😇 (@SaintsRugby) January 9, 2022
Enjoy the best of our five-try win at Kingston Park
Northampton only conceded eight points on the other side of the ball, and Hutchinson was pleased to see the attack and defence come together over the course of the game, ahead of a challenging fortnight of European action ahead.
He added: “We had a disappointing first 40 in our eyes, which gave us a bit of a reality check at half-time, but looking at the scoreboard after the second half is really pleasing and hopefully that performance is something for us to build on.
“When we go at teams, we can be deadly, but we weren’t happy after the first half – defensively it was good, but the launch play in our attack wasn’t quite us. We were a bit off the mark, but it came back in the second 40.
“We’re always trying to work hard to get better, we take things week by week, and the defence was definitely a positive against Newcastle.
“We’re looking forward now to the challenge of the next two weeks in Europe. We obviously didn’t do too much over the first two rounds so we go in with something to prove.”