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Leinster was 'massive' but Prem final 'the biggest game of the season'

By PA
George Furbank and his fellow Northampton Saints players (Getty Images)

George Furbank insists Northampton are ready for their moment of truth in Saturday’s Gallagher Premiership final against Bath at Twickenham.

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Saints are aiming to the win the league title for only the second time since its inception in 1987 and enter the winner-takes-all clash as favourites having set the Premiership alight this season.

Victory would signal their rise from fringe contenders with a soft underbelly to the rightful kings of English club rugby and Furbank believes they now possess the layers to their game needed to succeed Saracens as champions.

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“It’s the last dance. Win this game and you come away with a trophy. If you don’t, you finish runners-up,” the England full-back said.

“It’s definitely the biggest game of the season for us. Playing Leinster away in the semi-finals of the Champions Cup was massive, but we’ve now put ourselves in a position to win a trophy.

“Our game has definitely developed and is in a better place to win these big games than it was 12 months ago.

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“We’ve experienced some big games already this season, which has put us in a good place. Even playing Saracens in the semi-final… the pressure was really on.

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“We’ve had a few good experiences and we now want to use those lessons in the final.

“We work incredibly hard on our game and we’ve had a lot more belief in our defence this year as well. Lee Radford has come in and done a hell of a job there.

“He’s created a real buzz and energy around our ‘D’, which we probably didn’t have last season.

“When our attack hasn’t been working this year we’ve been able to rely on our ‘D’ to keep us in games, which has been massive for us.”

Northampton’s biggest disappointment of the season has also provided their most insightful teaching.

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Gripped by stage fright at Croke Park last month, they allowed Leinster to race into a 20-3 lead before realising they had the ability to match the Irish heavyweights, staging a fightback that just ran out of time.

Furbank, who alongside Bath’s Finn Russell will be wearing the ‘player mic’ for TV, insists that 20-17 defeat has shaped their game since.

“It’s taught us to be calm and composed whilst being as physical as you like,” he said.

“We probably weren’t as calm and clear thinking as we wanted to be in those first 20 minutes and they ultimately took a pretty handy lead.

“We had to chase it and we did that pretty well, but start big games like that and you’re always going to be on the back foot. We’ve spoken about being calm in our minds and our bodies firing.”

It will be the final game for forwards Courtney Lawes, Alex Waller, Lewis Ludlam and Alex Moon, each of whom has spent their entire careers at Northampton.

“For the last couple of months that’s been part of our motivation. It is an extra driving factor and definitely will be for those guys who are leaving,” Furbank said.

“We want to send them away with some silverware and I’m sure they’re desperate to do that as well.”

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