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We’re desperate to put it right – Cobus Reinach

Saints travel to Bath for the semi-final of the Anglo-Welsh cup and starting scrum-half Cobus Reinach is itching to get back in action.

For the South African international the only way to bury the memory of bad results is to get on with getting good ones.

“I don’t switch off from a defeat. It is in your head until Monday until you actually put it to rest where you see it on the video and make a plan to fix it. We’re not great company for our partners until then,” he said, reflecting on the week since the frustrating home defeat to Sale.

“We want to build a castle here and we are building it but taking three steps forward and one back is not what we are about. As a team we need to be more clinical and when we are at home we need to be unbeatable.

“Everyone was desperate to play and change it up a bit. Even the guys on the field are desperate to make something happen but it was just one of those games: they kick it through, the ball bounces into his knee and they score a try but no excuses we weren’t good enough.”

Much has been made of the straight-talking from technical consultant Alan Gaffney who must have felt like his hard work this season was unravelling during Saints lacklustre first half display. The quality of the second half fight back only underlined how unecessary the poor showing was in the first.

Cobus sees the pain of defeat as useful medicine however.

“A loss at home: definitely tough words were said, told to have a look at ourselves and our character. Players need to step up there is only so much coaches can do. If you don’t have a good game it is good to see it, get back to the drawing board and make new plans. We have had a very up and down season. We have been taking huge leaps to get to where we want to be but as I said we have taken one step back.”

The first half has been coming under focus in training this week said Ken Pisi.

“The boys have been putting in hard work to prepare ourselves for this challenge. We didn’t start off too well and that is what we need to do against Bath. Other teams come and they are ready to go but it takes us an extra 20 minutes. We have been working on it in training.

“It’ a good wake up call having Alan Gaffney. I have taken on board what he has said to me and I am trying to improve my game. It is just a matter of consistency. There is a lot of competition in the team. Bath will be strong and they will be hard at home but we are up for the challenge.”

Unsurprisingly acting head coach Alan Dickens found it tough to take a defeat that need not have happened.

“It was very disappointing. We made a couple of errors: dropping the ball, not covering the backfield kick through for Marlon Yarde’s try, early doors we spilled the ball on a turnover. A lot of it was down to our own mistakes. The frustration with the second half was I know the players could do better and when we put in a performance for 60 or 70 minutes then we’ll get the results.

“Within coaching you can be pretty harsh and sometimes you need to put an arm round a shoulder. You need a bit of everything and we have got that here. Alan Gaffney challenges everyone.”

Teimana Harrison will win his 100th cap for Saints at Bath. The two previous encounters with Bath this season have resulted in one win each, favouring the home team.

Myler starts at fly half alongside Reinach at scrum-half.

That leaves Piers Francis to shift to inside centre in place of the injured Luther Burrell, with the rest of Northampton’s back-line unchanged from last week.

Ben Foden skippers Saints on the wing, with Nafi Tuitavake and Ahsee Tuala once again making up the rest of the back three.

There is one change to Saints’ front row with Reece Marshall making his fourth start of the season at hooker as Mike Haywood is rested, but props Campese Ma’afu and Kieran Brookes are unchanged.

David Ribbans has recovered from a shoulder knock to return alongside Api Ratuniyarawa in the second row, while Jamie Gibson starts at flanker in place of the injured Tom Wood alongside centurion Harrison.

Charlie Clare, Ben Nutley, and Tom Stephenson also all come into the 23 to take their place amongst the replacements and Nic Groom is poised to make his 50th Northampton appearance off the bench, with Saints hoping to book their spot in next weekend’s final at Kingsholm.

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