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Ramm: Accuracy must improve for Saints against top sides

James Ramm insists Northampton Saints’ accuracy has to improve if the men in Black, Green and Gold are to compete with Europe’s best, following an opening Heineken Champions Cup defeat to Stade Rochelais.

The match at the Stade Marcel-Deflandre was the winger’s debut in European rugby’s premier competition, but it proved to be a difficult introduction as the defending champions ran out 46-12 winners.

The majority inside the packed arena roared their approval as La Rochelle quickly took the match away from Saints, who found themselves 32-0 down at half-time, and Ramm admitted the atmosphere was unlike anything he had ever experienced before.

The 24-year-old did have something to remember his Champions Cup bow by when he put Saints on the board in south-west France, running onto Fin Smith’s long pass to score in the corner during the second half.

Matt Proctor added a second consolation score in the time that remained, and Ramm encouraged his teammates to take what they could from a final half-hour where they showed some defiance despite the result being beyond them.

Ramm said: “We’d prepped for the atmosphere there and I’d mentally prepared for it. But the whole experience was something new for me, and until you’re out there, you can’t run it through your head too much.

“La Rochelle are a class team and a class act, we knew that coming over. They won the Champions Cup last year and we want to test ourselves against the best.

“To have that opportunity was amazing, but obviously the accuracy wasn’t there.”

James Ramm

“In the past couple of weeks, we’ve gone the other way – we’ve started really well, had a lull and let other teams back in.

“So, if we are going take any positives out of the game, it’s definitely that. We had our backs against the wall and we’re here to fight, we weren’t going to give up.

“It proves that we definitely can stand with these teams, it’s just that we need to do that for the full 80 minutes. We’ll take a lot of learnings from this and we must turn up next week [against Munster] for the full 80.”

While the first 50 minutes made for hard viewing for the Saints supporters who had travelled across the Channel, they welcomed the sight of Courtney Lawes coming off the bench in the second half.

It was Lawes’ first appearance for two months since recovering from the effects of a concussion sustained in the East Midlands derby against Leicester Tigers.

Ramm added: “Seeing Courtney back out there definitely gave us a lift. He’s been training for a couple of weeks now and everyone has been getting excited to see him get back out there.

“To play with him is definitely a pleasure because he’s a world-class player.”

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