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Believing the unbelievable

Who would have predicted a win away to Saracens when the fixtures were announced?

We could easily talk ourselves out of getting too excited about Saturday’s 25-27 away win at Saracens.

There are so many factors to mention: players away on international duty – indeed World Cup quarter finals on the same day soaking up a little bit of emotional energy. The fact even that it was the first game of the season. There’s a long way to go and all that.

But then you look at the scene on the Saints coaches’ bench at the final whistle: Vesty and Dowson are celebrating so hard that Vesty’s big black book of coaching notes gets knocked-on into the press benches, Dicko is grinning ear to ear and Mr Boyd – he’s amplifying it all with his studied calm.

This was also to some extent a score settled and a marker placed.

When Saints won the Premiership Cup in a final with Saracens there was grumping from their fans that it was mostly their youth team on the field. Saints fans could easily have responded with ‘welcome to our world’. And defeat to Saracens in this season’s Premiership Cup may have felt to the well-heeled Londoners that some kind of natural order had been restored.

So the Premiership league win by Saints on Saturday, as much as it can be qualified in all sorts of ways, was hardly a freebie. For Saints, climbing back into the position of contenders in all competitions, it had to happen some time and wow, it has happened already.

Heinrich Broussow was a last minute pull-out from the squad and the 33-year-old has now announced his retirement from rugby having battled injuries throughout his time at Franklins Gardens.

That meant the fresh faces of Alex Coles and JJ Tonks lining up alongside veteran Tom Wood in the back row.

Tonks said this week: “It was an awesome result and my Prem debut. Obviously we knew what we had to do, playing out of position wasnt going to be easy but me Colesy and Woody linked up pretty well.”

Coach Sam Vesty was delighted too.

“A really good gutsy determined win, an 80 minute performance, the boys kept their composure and nailed it. It is a difficult place to go. They stop you playing your game,” he said, before reflecting on the reaction of the head coach.

“He was certainly the calmest. He is often very calm. He doesnt get too high and doesnt get too low. It’s perfect. Its what we need.”

The talented youngers breaking through in all areas of the Saints team have shown they can dazzle, and knuckling down to shut out games and grind out wins is now everyone’s priority.

Back Andy Simons reflected: ” It was amazing to be involved. I’ve been there a few times and not got that result. I just came on and played my game. We just wanted to see it out and not make any mistakes. It was a relief. We worked really hard for that as a team. It was really satisfying.”

Saturday is a different kind of test against Worcester who beat Leicester at the weekend.

Vesty said: “Worcester are a dangerous outfit. They can hurt us all over the park. We need to be absolutely on our mettle but it is our first big home game of the season and we are really excited.They had a great win, scored a couple of decent tries and defended the Leicester team really hard for big chunks of the game.”

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