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Vesty: Improvements for Saints to make ahead of league opener

Attack coach Sam Vesty admits that Northampton Saints have plenty to work on ahead of next weekend’s Gallagher Premiership opener, despite notching up their second win of preseason on Friday evening.

The men in Black, Green and Gold held on to beat Ospreys 31-26 at Franklin’s Gardens, backing up a 40-21 triumph over Bedford Blues seven days previously, with a mixture of youth and experience taking to the field for the hosts.

Saints scored through Tom Collins (2), Tom Litchfield, Alex Mitchell and Lewis Ludlam, but had to play with their backs to the wall during the second half as the Welsh outfit pushed them all the way to the 80th minute.

And with Gloucester Rugby heading to the Gardens this weekend, Vesty was grateful Saints had the opportunity to learn some lessons on the field before Saturday’s Premiership curtain-raiser.

“We got lots out of the game,” he said. “It was a decent hit-out for pre-season; we did some good things and there were plenty of things to be positive about.

“There were some areas for us to work on – the points they scored being part of that. We’re happy with scoring those tries, but we’ve got to stop them scoring.”

Sam Vesty, Attack Coach

“Asking the boys to come out when it’s slightly greasy and you’ve got that contact element to it, the ball is going to spill out of hands. They picked up a couple of cheap tries where they got an intercept, or a bounce off a chest.

“It’s a good hit-out for us because we won’t be turning the ball over as much next week, and going forward there’s only way to practice it; out there on the field.”

One player who caught the eye on Friday was Tom Litchfield, with the 19-year-old centre impressing during the first half playing out on the wing.

Litchfield, who signed his first full-time deal at Franklin’s Gardens during the summer of 2020, scored in both pre-season games against Bedford Blues and Ospreys – and Vesty believes the youngster is growing as a player all the time.

He said: “Litch is a really good player. He’s very much a centre, but he can definitely do a job on the wing as well.

“He’s an aggressive, ball-carrying centre and I think he’s got a good future ahead of him.”

Saints lock horns with Gloucester this week for the Club’s first match of the new Premiership season, with the Cherry & Whites heading to Franklin’s Gardens on Saturday (kick-off: 3pm).

“We’ve been ramping up training and we deliberately played the Ospreys game very fatigued,” Vesty added.

“This week we’ll be freshening up a bit, and making sure we get those bits of organisation sorted to make sure we come in firing against Gloucester next Saturday.”

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