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Hutchinson: Maintaining momentum vital for Saints during coming weeks

Centre Rory Hutchinson is hoping Northampton Saints can continue to build momentum after their heart-stopping 38-34 victory over Sale Sharks.

Saints produced one of the greatest comebacks in their history on Saturday, as they recovered from a 27-7 deficit in the early stages of the second half to record their second-straight win in the Gallagher Premiership.

It was their biggest fightback since they overturned a 21-point deficit against Leeds Carnegie in May 2011, and it allowed them to remain third in the table ahead of another key home game against Gloucester on Saturday.

Another victory against the Cherry and Whites at cinch Stadium at Franklin’s Gardens would leave the fate of the men in Black, Green and Gold in their own hands in the race for a place in the top four.

Hutchinson said: “We know how important it is to get that ball rolling. A few weeks ago we beat Leicester, now we’re back into the Prem against Sale, who are a top-two side.

“We’re just getting that momentum and the ball is slowly moving for us. Hopefully we can keep that momentum going.

“We always have to leave it quite late, don’t we? But we’re focused, we’ll take our learnings from the game.”

Rory Hutchinson

Even with 63 minutes gone at the Gardens, it was hard to see a way back for Saints, who trailed the Sharks 34-19 following what, up to that point, had been a disjointed performance.

They had held a man advantage since the 14th minute when Sharks centre Manu Tuilagi was sent off for elbowing Tommy Freeman in the throat.

The visitors, however, were the better side in the first 40 minutes despite being down to 14 men for the majority of it, and left Phil Dowson’s men with a mountain to climb after the break.

In a show of great resilience, they clawed their way uphill in the second half and eventually reached the summit courtesy of Fraser Dingwall’s match-winning try with just three minutes remaining.

Hutchinson said: “At the start, we came out with a load of energy. I felt like we were getting to a good place with our defence, but for whatever reason it was we just conceded way too easily and we lost a bit of momentum.

“Going into half-time there were a few heads down, but we came back around – obviously they had their red card and we were just trying to chase too early.

“We tried to force it in the first half to level the scores when we didn’t need to, and I just felt that second half was a much more composed game from us and we got over the line.”

Hutchinson helped Saints get over the line by filling in a fly-half after Fin Smith suffered a dead leg and converted the try scored by Callum Braley after 74 minutes.

The 27-year-old’s kick took them to within one point of their opponents, setting the stage for Dingwall to complete a comeback that will be spoken of for years.

On his experience in the No.10 position, Hutchinson said: “I didn’t mind it, but I was kicking the ball into touch and Juarno [Augustus] said to me as I’m letting go of the ball, in his South African accent: “Ja, make sure” …as I’m letting go of the ball!

“That’s put me off. Luckily, it’s just gone out, but my heart was in my mouth then.”

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