Saints have not had a chance to take a breath after a tough day at the office against Leicester and a frustrating last gasp defeat to London Irish in the Premiership Cup on Tuesday night.
On Sunday they face Harlequins in one of the league’s showcase games with two teams renowned for finding space facing off against each other at The Stoop.
Scotland international Rory Hutchinson said: “It is a really exciting game against Quins and obviously good for rugby. This is the type of game we want to see. I couldn’t tell you what is going to happen. I watched their second half at the weekend and it is going to be an exciting game. For us it is about sticking to our game, we don’t need to go off script. We need to get our game on the field for 80 minutes.”
At the same time they won’t be forgetting the lessons from the East Midlands derby which started well but turned sour in the second half.
“It is always disappointing after 50 minutes of good rugby. We know it’s an 80 minute game. We need to make sure that we perform for the full 80 minutes especially against teams like Leicester who are good at putting pressure on teams. We crumbled to that pressure, especially going down to 12 men. There’s a lot we can learn from it but also some positives as well,” said Hutchinson.
“There were multiple little things, pressures, penalties, it was a disappointing day for our scrum. I felt we did well in the first half, we got some launches, some counter attacks but in that second half we were camped in our 22 for the majority of time. You can’t give them those opportunities. For us it is about the complete performance.”
Fraser Dingwall, celebrating an England call up along with six other Saints, agreed that getting the overall performance right is key to Saints getting some return for their efforts.
“We feel that we can beat any side if we perform so our reflection is about our performance rather than the result,” he said, explaining the team’s analysis of the game.
“For the first 50 minutes we were getting out of the game what we wanted. There were a few crucial moments when momentum swung back their way. They have a simple game plan to fall back on and we didn’t really stop it and with the cards it was really hard to stop. Those last ten minutes didn’t really reflect the game but in fairness to them they are a top team, they won the Premiership last year.”
Taking on Quins will be no less physical than Tigers however.
“The bottom line is that every game in this league is going to be decided by the collision aspect but Quins are a different challenge because they will move the ball to space. It is still a massive part of their game to get ‘go forward’ and play off the back of that. They have got a lot of attacking threats all over the pitch and will move the ball to space. It’s negating their go forward, negating their half backs and being alive to every opportunity,” said Dingwall.
One upside of the Tigers game that was felt strongly by the team was the boost from a Franklin’s Gardens full house.
If last season’s objective was a top four finish, the bar has been set higher this year for a good reason.
“We have set our sights on a top two finish this year to get that home advantage in the play-offs,” said Hutchinson.
“It sounded pretty good when we were out there. We’ve got some great fans here. Proper rugby town. It was great to see everyone at the Gardens.”