Ben Foden was in reflective mood after the Saints opened 2016 with an Aviva Premiership win over high-flying Exeter Chiefs at Franklin’s Gardens.
Saints dominated the encounter, scoring the game’s only try and having the better chances and territory. But they could not shake Exeter loose, and as the heavens opened in the second half any thoughts of running riot had to be put aside.
Defensively the Saints were superb, shutting down a team which had crossed the whitewash in all of their previous games this season, and their work at the breakdown ensured a steady stream of possession for the hosts to put the Chiefs under pressure.
And while he acknowledged how much the club’s supporters want to see the team put the ball through the hands, Foden was insistent as to the need to play heads-up rugby that takes the conditions into account.
“It’s not been the greatest weather!,” he told SaintsTV. “We’ve come under a bit of scrutiny, and the fans want to see us pass the ball and score tries, running riot against sides, but it’s just not going to be the case when the weather turns like that; it’s going to be a more tactical affair.
“The calibre of the Aviva Premiership now means that there’s no such thing as an easy game. There are some great sides, and you’ve got to be on your mettle, so that when the weather turns like that you make sure you play in the right areas of the field, kicking the ball and putting pressure on their set piece.
“That was crucial and we managed to do that. The forwards were superb; they stepped up today to win penalties when we needed them, and our defence was awesome.
“The idea was to come and get a ‘W’ and to start in the right frame of mind and get things going in the right way in 2016. We were playing against a very good Exeter side and knew it was going to be tough. It turned into a bit of an arm wrestle at the end but we came out on the right side of the result with the four points that we needed.”
The big games keep on coming in 2016, with Glasgow coming to Franklin’s Gardens for a crucial European Rugby Champions Cup clash on Sunday, January 17th. Tickets are available now in most areas of the stadium at www.tinyurl.com/SAI-GLA-1516 and by using [email protected] supporters can beat the match day queues and save the admin fees.