Saints’ Champions Cup hopes may have ended at the hands of Exeter Chiefs on Sunday afternoon, but scrum-half Henry Taylor believes the performance was a clear level up from previous weeks.
In a combative first half at Sandy Park, the Men in Black, Green and Gold arguably had the better of exchanges and turned around within four points of the hotly-favoured Chiefs.
And, while the Gallagher Premiership leaders eventually emerged comfortable 38-15 victors on the scoreboard, it didn’t tell the full story of what was at times a close-fought affair.
“We’ve taken that step in the right direction and now we need to build it into the final two games and into next season.”Henry Taylor
“[It was] definitely the kind of direction we want to be going and definitely an improvement from the last few weeks, but I think the boys are still coming off the pitch disappointed,” Taylor said.
“We knew it was going to be a very challenging game here, but after that first half we went in and thought; ‘here we go, we’re in this.’ We turned up and put our training onto the pitch.”
With the first score after the break looking crucial, it was the hosts and Jack Nowell who pounced to take control of the game and despite a well-worked score from Fraser Dingwall in response, it was the taking of chances rather than possession and territory that proved decisive in the final quarter of the match.
“I think maybe the 10 minutes after half-time a few errors and not quite sticking to the game-plan maybe let them back in the game and it’s a tough pill to swallow,” Taylor added.
“I wouldn’t have said Exeter were at their most clinical today, but they took the chances that they had. We were camped in their 22 on quite few occasions and didn’t come away with any points, so we’ll have to look at that."
In spite of the result, the show of character during a tough run was a welcome boost ahead of rounding off what has been an extraordinary 2019/20 season.
“We’ve tried to bring everyone tighter together. With Covid, it’s been difficult to get the lads together in big groups, so that’s been a challenge. Especially when you’re losing, that’s what you need, but we’ve managed to keep quite a positive vibe around the Club, we’ve trained really well this week – which was a good step in the right direction – and I think that showed on the pitch in the first half.
“We’ve taken that step in the right direction and now we need to build it into the final two games and into next season.”