Scrum-half Alex Mitchell insists self-belief within the Northampton Saints camp was unwavering in the build-up to Saturday’s victory over Worcester Warriors, despite a difficult run of results.
The 23-year-old No.9 grabbed a score and an assist for the men in Black, Green and Gold, as they secured their first victory of the season with a try bonus point to boot.
Dan Biggar and Mikey Haywood, plus a penalty try, were also on the scoresheet as Saints climbed off the foot of the Gallagher Premiership table.
And with a visit to London Irish followed by a home East Midlands Derby against Leicester Tigers to come over the next fortnight, Mitchell is confident that the victorious ending to 2020 can carry over into the New Year.
“We knew we had the performance in us, and the team to do it,” he said. “It’s just been so frustrating the last three or four weeks. There have been some pretty good performances there, so it was tough to lose games like that.
“That was a win we needed to flick the switch and get on with the season. Now we’ve got the first win, I hope we’ll see a domino effect and they will keep coming.
“In this league, anyone can beat anyone on their day. We know that on our day we can be at the top of the table.”Alex Mitchell
“We’ve got the team to do it, it’s just a case of getting that confidence back and getting that performance back week-in week-out. Hopefully it starts to come more naturally now.”
Mitchell also believes Northampton have learned how to survive under pressure in recent weeks – citing the side’s resilience when Dan Biggar saw yellow against Worcester.
Aside from the resulting Billy Searle penalty, Saints did not concede while a man down, and even went close to a score of their own when Dave Ribbans was held up over the line.
The scrum-half credited that mental toughness to being in a few challenging situations in recent weeks which has provided the side with several valuable lessons.
Mitchell said: “At times during the last year, when the cards have been against us, we have crumbled and did not play to the best of our ability.
“But when Dan went off and we didn’t have a fly-half, we reacted very well. Everyone was in their role and no one tried to fix things all by themselves.
“It shows how much we’ve come on as a team. When you lose a few on the bounce you actually learn quite a lot, so I think it’s been a good step up for us and hopefully we kick on from it.”
The only frustration from Mitchell was not being able to share the festive triumph with the Franklin’s Gardens faithful, following additional local Covid-19 restrictions being enforced in Northamptonshire in the build-up to the game.
“We do try and avoid thinking about external stuff like that, but hearing that news was quite upsetting,” he added. “Having 2,000 supporters in against Bordeaux was awesome – they were so loud.
“You forget how much noise fans can actually make, I had goosebumps out there. So I was quite annoyed to not get everyone back again because they do make a massive difference.
“It was just one of those things you have to get through. It was a shame to not have the fans but hopefully they watched at home and enjoyed their Boxing Day.”