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Lawes: We’re starting to find what makes Saints tick

Courtney Lawes collected his second Player-of-the-Match award in three weeks as Northampton Saints posted their second win in the Investec Champions Cup on Friday, beating RC Toulon 22-19 in Round 2. 

Tom Seabrook crossed the whitewash for Saints after eight minutes, with George Furbank adding two more tries either side of half-time, and though Toulon sent Melvyn Jaminet and former Saint David Ribbans over the whitewash to take the lead, a dramatic late score from Tom Lockett sealed the bonus-point win for Northampton. 

And while the men in Black, Green and Gold top Pool 3 after two rounds, Lawes knows there is still plenty his Saints side must do if they are to secure a place in the competition’s knock-out stages.

“The job’s not done yet,” said Lawes. “We’ve obviously got pretty big ambitions this season, but we’ve had a fantastic start. We couldn’t have done much better.

“It’s important for the whole Club that we do well in this tournament – in terms of financially, in terms of our supporter base, and for us as a squad. We’ve gone a fair while now without winning anything significant and that’s something we want to put right. 

“We’re just trying to grow as a team and that match is a great example for us of how far we’ve come. Those kind of wins are ones you can really lean back on as you come into the second half of the season.”

Courtney Lawes

“You can use them to grow the belief when the chips are down, you can see that you’ve got a chance to come back.

“I think in the first half of this season we’ve really found what makes us tick. For us, it’s energy and urgency. Getting back and getting set quickly, getting to breakdown quickly so there’s no contest there, getting the defence set so we’re ready to go and get them. 

“We’re a team that really thrives off the energy of each other and getting in position early so we can go and do our work. As long as we’ve got that, we can excel in most areas of the game.”

Saints made six changes to the side that defeated Glasgow Warriors in Round 1, and Lawes was full of praise for the young squad around him that has produced six wins in Saints’ last seven matches in all competitions. 

He said: “The whole team have stepped up. There’s a group of the younger boys who have stepped up and matured a great deal over the last season. We’ve got a lot of boys in the pack, people like Curtis [Langdon] are doing great and then we’ve also got Moony [Alex Moon] and Alex Coles who are performing really consistently. People like Sam Graham, Tom Pearson and Juarno Augustus coming back in too. And that’s what we need, that strength in depth. 

“Mitch [Alex Mitchell] has also been on great form since he got back from the World Cup. And then there’s Furbs [George Furbank] leading the charge, with Fraser [Dingwall] and Freemo [Tommy Freeman] too. 

“It’s great seeing these good English players playing consistent rugby, playing well. Hopefully they get a shot to do it on the big stage.”

Lawes is enjoying an impressive run of form since returning from the Rugby World Cup last month, sandwiching a try against Glasgow Warriors with a pair of Player-of-the-Match awards against Saracens and Toulon. 

“I’m just trying to do my thing. I’m just enjoying my rugby," added Lawes of his own form. “I’m just trying to play well, to play for the boys and we dug in today for each other. 

“Regardless of whatever might happen, you always want to win silverware. You want those kind of memories and you want to play on the big stage. So of course something I aspire to do is win more silverware here. We’re on the right track.”

Saints’ attentions now shift back into the Gallagher Premiership as they prepare to go in search of their third consecutive league victory when they face Gloucester Rugby on Saturday 23 December (kick-off: 3pm).

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