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Fraser Dingwall: The Leinster lesson driving Northampton title push

By PA
Northampton Saints v Saracens – Gallagher Premiership – Semi Final – cinch Stadium at Franklin’s Gardens

Fraser Dingwall insists Northampton have taken the crucial step of believing they are ready to clinch the Gallagher Premiership title.

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Saints secured their place in Saturday’s Twickenham final against Bath after edging past champions Saracens in a full-blooded play-off that saw their defence and set-piece make up for a subdued night in attack.

They were crushed by Saracens at the same stage in 2023 but have kicked on since, winning the regular league season and growing from the adversity faced against heavyweight European opponents Munster and Leinster.

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“Last year we had the same tools but I just don’t think we had the belief,” England centre Dingwall said.

“This year we have faced so many challenges and so many big occasions that we have got belief in this group about what we are capable of if we trust it.

“You’ve got to believe in yourself. This season we have overcome so many big challenges like Munster away and Exeter away when we were down by 26 points and we came back.

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“Against Leinster at Croke Park, I know we didn’t get the result but we took so many big learnings from that. We faced so many big challenges that there is now the belief in the group.

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“Against Leinster, it took us too long to realise that we were capable of beating them. We probably turned up thinking, ‘This is Leinster, pretty much a full Ireland team’ and just sat back to see what they did rather than going at them from the off.”

Northampton have emerged as the Premiership’s standout team of 2023-24, in the process thrilling audiences with an emphasis on attack overseen by Fin Smith and George Furbank.

Furbank is among a host of players developed by the club’s academy, many of whom were present at Twickenham as teenagers when the Saints last reached the final in 2014.

“This group is pretty much built on the academy. I was at that final watching as a fan and there were so many boys in this squad watching that game as fans and it sticks in our memory,” Dingwall said.

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“All we have ever wanted to do is recreate that. This final will be special for everyone, for boys playing their last game and boys for whom it is their boyhood club.”

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3 Comments
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BigMaul 21 days ago

I’m sure Worcester fans will be as surprised as me to read that Fin Smith came through the Northampton academy.

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Turlough 1 hours ago
'Let them keep talking' - Mike Catt claps back over Bok remarks

“You want that – not hatred – but whatever it is that stirs it all up. It’s good.” Agree with this. If you can put a common motivating idea in all your players heads during a game it can produce a real Team perfromance. Erasmus is pretty expert at this. It is quite clear that the comments by Etzebeth, Allende and others were not coincidence and were actioned to create animoisty before the series in order to galvanise the South African mind set. While I understand it, I don’t like it. They result in unnessary vitriol between supporters and for what? I don’t think any of the SA players seriously believe any of these claims and with Ireland ignoring them Erasmus won’t get the escalation he seeks. The vitriol shown by some SA and indeed NZ supporters is extremely weird for NH supporters (OK, maybe England have felt it) but it just feels very odd over a sport. Ireland were more or less sh1t for the first 100 years of their rugby, they have improved significantly in the last 25 to be in a position around now (it may not last) to go into a match with the big guns with a real shot of winning. The reaction to this from some SH supporters has been bizarre with conspiracy theories of ‘Arrogance’ fueling abuse from supporters and even NZ players to Irish crowds during the world cup. I love International rugby and the comraderie between supporters. I genuinely dread and dislike the atmosphere around games with the southern giants. They take this very personally. NH teams: play them, try and beat them, enjoy the craic with their players and supporters and wish them well. SH teams wish them well and they call you arrogant in the press months later. Its just a matter of try and beat them and then good riddance til the next time.

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