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Northampton pinpoint area of improvement needed for Leinster clash

By Josh Raisey
Northampton Saints/ PA

Though Northampton Saints sit at the top of the Gallagher Premiership and have an Investec Champions Cup semi-final on Saturday against Leinster at Croke Park, fullback George Furbank has pinpointed a worrying trend in their recent performances.


The Saints fell to Harlequins 41-32 on Saturday at Twickenham despite having a man advantage on three occasions. After going behind to a Luke Northmore try after only a minute played, their poor starts recently are something that Furbank and his teammates are aware of.

The Saints went in at the break behind to Harlequins as they did the previous week against Leicester Tigers before pulling away in the second half. They were drawing with Munster half-time in their Champions Cup round of 16 tie, while they only held a six-point advantage over the Bulls in the quarter-final before moving up a gear in the second 40.

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No team in Europe can afford to have a slow start against Leinster, which is something the Saints will want to work on over the coming week.

“We are pretty disappointed,” Furbank said to Northampton when reviewing the loss to Harlequins.

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“It was a game we thought we should have won, but we probably didn’t put our game on the pitch at all in the first half, missed a few opportunities, and they scored a bit too easily for our liking.

“It became a bit scrappy, and we had a few handling errors and a few silly decisions at the breakdown that allowed Quins into our half, and allowed them to do what they do pretty well.


“We can definitely take positives out that game though, we had enough opportunities to win. We weren’t miles off of it, we just didn’t put our game on the park which is the most frustrating thing. So, we will take positives from the game, but overall it was disappointing.

“We have had a few poor starts in games recently. Against Tigers, we didn’t put our game on the park as much as we wanted to, but then came out in the second half of that game and executed really well.

“At half-time this weekend we felt we were operating at about a five out of ten, and believed that if we got that higher in the second half, we would win the game. Ultimately, we conceded too easily and made too many mistakes in attack.”

Despite this trend, the Saints have plenty of reasons to be positive heading to Dublin given the season they have had so far.


“We have got a massive week ahead which we are really excited for,” said Furbank.

“There will be a real excitement around training throughout the week which we are really looking forward to.

“Dows [Phil Dowson] has spoken about making memories in Europe, and we have done that so far. We’ve been away to Glasgow and won, away at Munster and won, and then beat them in the Round-of-16 at home.

“They are memories already made, and we are hoping to go to Leinster and make another one.

“Croke Park is going to be a hell of an atmosphere, probably one that even international boys haven’t experienced before, so we’re buzzing for that and are determined to get our game on the pitch against Leinster.”



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