Winger Ollie Sleightholme admitted Northampton Saints were ‘fired up’ as they posted their biggest-ever win at Worcester Warriors last weekend.
Heading to Sixways for the first time since the coronavirus pandemic hit, Saints racked up an impressive nine-try haul in the 62-14 victory – with Sleightholme crossing the whitewash four times in the game, his second career quadruple.
It was the 20-year-old’s first score just before the half-time whistle that proved the catalyst for Saints’ second-half surge, but Sleightholme said the side were frustrated with their performance in the first 40 at Sixways.
“If you look at the first half, it was a completely different story,” Sleightholme said.
“You look at the stats, they were almost in Worcester's favour. We came in at half-time and we knew we needed to win that frontline first before we earned the right to go out the back.
“In defence, we were a little bit soft, not sticking to what we know and when they got into our 22 we were pretty soft on them again.
“We spoke at half-time, got ourselves a bit more fired up and went out and proved that point.”
The prolific young winger already has 15 senior tries to his name, despite having only made 23 appearances in Black, Green and Gold, and Sleightholme is relishing the freedom of playing in a free-flowing Saints backline.
“I feel really good at the moment,” added Sleightholme.
“Coming off the back of having over a year out not so long ago, I feel probably the best I’ve felt in a long time.”Ollie Sleightholme
“[On Saturday] it was a case of trying not to play too much because you can get caught in the trap of knowing there's space and trying to force it to that space all the time. You've still got to earn the right to go through the team and play out the back.
“One of our main things is having the confidence to go out on the field and play the rugby we know we can play.”
Now Saints’ attentions turn to knock-out rugby, with the European Challenge Cup Round of 16 seeing Northampton make the trip to Dragons this weekend.
And the young wing is all too aware of the challenges the Welsh side pose, having faced off with Dragons when the two sides met in the pool stages of the competition back in 2018.
He said: “It’s going to be different, but we just need to go out there and put our own game on the field again.
“If we can do that, hopefully we’ll come away with a win but you never really know what might happen in Europe.”