Lock David Ribbans admits his final competitive appearance for Northampton Saints at cinch Stadium at Franklin’s Gardens, Saturday’s 38-29 victory over Saracens, was an emotional occasion.
Ribbans, who will depart the Club for French Top 14 side Toulon in the summer, gave a man-of-the-match performance as Saints moved back up to fourth in the table by seeing off the Gallagher Premiership leaders.
The result means it will be all to play for when Ribbans pulls on a Saints jersey for the 120th time, as the men in Black, Green & Gold look to keep their semi-final hopes alive when they travel to Newcastle Falcons on Friday evening for their last match of the regular season.
Ribbans, a Saintsman since January 2017, said: “Not too much has been made of it this week – I didn’t want to make a big thing of it – but personally it has been an emotional week.
“I knew it was going to be my last game in the Premiership at the Gardens for Northampton Saints, so it was emotional.”David Ribbans
“I had my old man in the stands, he flew over [from South Africa], and some family here watching us, which was extra special.”
Although they picked up the all-important win, it was by no means a perfect performance from Saints against opponents who had centre Duncan Taylor sent off after only eight minutes for a high hit on Fin Smith.
This came in the middle of a frustrating opening period for Phil Dowson’s side, although they powered back to effectively make the game safe by scoring six tries with just over an hour played.
In what has been an inconsistent campaign for Saints, however, the hosts allowed standards to slip in the closing stages which led to their depleted opponents pulling back a couple of late scores.
Summing up the mixed feelings in the changing room, Ribbans said: “I don’t think we were clinical enough and our defence at times was poor.
“Saracens had 14 men for the majority of that game and they still scored 29 points in the game, so there is quite a lot we need to improve on, and I think just the accuracy overall in our game.
“We put some nice plays on them, our shape was good, but just handling and things like that wasn’t good enough and not up to our Saints standard.”David Ribbans
“The last ten minutes in particular was frustrating and in the changing room you could feel that there was frustration in the group with the way we played and the way we let the game get away from us at the end.”
Rather than look back on what has been a successful six years with Saints, Ribbans is focusing on ending his time with the Club on a high by progressing into the Premiership semi-finals, and beyond.
He said: “It’s been an amazing six years here, I call this place my home, I call England my home, but I’m also focused on trying to win some silverware with Saints because that is ultimately what I want to achieve.
“It was a nice little send-off here on Saturday, but it’s more about the team and I really want us to get into that top four and hopefully get some silverware.”