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HomeSportRugbyMitchell relishing the build-up to the East Midlands derby

Mitchell relishing the build-up to the East Midlands derby

James Logan talks to England scrum-half Alex Mitchell as Northampton Saints prepare for the East Midlands derby

Northampton Saints scrum-half Alex Mitchell says he would like to bring his World Cup success back to the club ahead of “one of the biggest games of the season”. 

Saints travel to Leicester Tigers in the East-Midlands derby this weekend as they make their early push into the top 4 of the Gallagher Premiership, writes James Logan

The men in green, black, and gold will travel to their local rivals off the back of a dominant 34-19 win against Exeter Chiefs last Sunday.

This East-Midlands tie on derby weekend will give Alex Mitchell and his fellow teammates that extra bit of motivation to get a win.

Returning from England duty Mitchell said: “These are the games you look forward to.

“The derby weeks, the boys, and the atmosphere both throughout the week and on gameday is fantastic.

“These are the games you want to play in, and we can’t wait to get going.”

Mitchell cemented his name into the starting lineup as well as helped England to another semi-final after injuries accelerated his elevation to first-choice nine at the World Cup.

The scrumhalf spoke enthusiastically about the opportunity he was given during his time in France.

“It was a great experience, the whole buzz around the tournament was massive. 

“To play at a World Cup, at the top table is what I wanted to do as a child.

“It was a dream come true, I loved every moment of it,” said Mitchell.

Picture by James Logan

Saints currently sit fourth in the Premiership table winning three of their opening five games with this game giving the Saints a chance to move further up the table.

Previously playing in this fixture as a player, director of rugby Phil Dowson recognises the importance of a win on derby day.

“It’s one of the biggest derbies in domestic rugby.

“You know they’ll (Leicester) be excited about the game themselves.

“There is no need to drive anything from what’s happened in the past, it’s a great rivalry.

“It’s got a lot of history, but we’re more focused on what happens this Saturday than what’s happened in the past,” said Dowson. 

Dowson also highlighted the progression in Saints set pieces this season and how it’s about being consistent. 

“We target scrums every week, we target lineouts every week, we target restarts every week and attack and defence.

“It’s a consistency message, it’s the ability to repeat it and repeat it away from home under pressure.

Saints have been able to rely on is fly-half Fin Smith, the 21-year-old has been astute from the boot and clever with his attacking patterns. 

This will be an East-Midlands derby debut for Smith who is looking forward to the challenge that the Tigers will pose on Saturday.

“I can’t wait, I’ve been chatting to some of the lads about what a derby day is like and the tension and rivalry and all the little bits that come with it.

“I’m really looking forward to it and should be a great experience,” said Smith.

He went on to credit the team on how they approach games this season with the view that on their day they can beat anyone.

The number 10 said: “We’re really confident that we can play well and beat anyone on our day.

“So, we are just having to focus on us, obviously there are little bits to look at to improve, but we are just trying to focus on the things that we do well.”

Northampton will want to add to their away derby win In January as the home side will want to change their seasons fortunes around.

With players now back in the mix from the World Cup in September and October it is set to be a fiery derby day at Mattioli Woods Welford Road.

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