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Phil Dowson predicts big things for England prospect Fin Smith

NEWCASTLE UPON TYNE, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 29: Saints fly half Fin Smith reac during the Gallagher Premiership Rugby match between Newcastle Falcons and Northampton Saints at Kingston Park on October 29, 2023 in Newcastle upon Tyne, England. (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)

Northampton director of rugby Phil Dowson says Fin Smith’s prolific points-kicking performance will lay the foundations for him to scale even greater heights after Saints’ hard-fought 16-14 victory at winless Newcastle.


Fly-half Smith kicked three penalties and a conversion as Curtis Langdon’s try helped haul Northampton to their first Premiership win of the season at Kingston Park.

Iwan Stephens grabbed a late score for Falcons but Dowson’s side clung on for a gutsy victory in the north east.

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Smith starred for Saints and Dowson believes the sky is the limit for the highly-rated 21-year-old.

He said: “I think his game management was fantastic today. He’s only going to get better, I think he’s 21, or 22?

“So there’s only going to be improvements and experiences like today will help his development no end.

“That’s something he’s spoken about during the week and put an emphasis on that.”

After defeats to Sale and Bristol, Northampton finally got their campaign up and running.


Dowson said: “It was everything we expected, it was a scrap. We expected them to put up the performance they did I suppose, so to come out the other end of that was really pleasing.

“I think the first three games are a credit to the Premiership – the closeness of our (games) over the last three weeks, one decision or an X-factor could have got us a win in the last couple of games.

“Unfortunately, we couldn’t get over the line with them, but today was really pleasing – to do it like we did, with a man down as well.”

Langdon dotted down for the only try of the match in the second half, with Smith adding the extras and a treble of penalties.


The majority of the hosts’ points came via the boot of Brett Connon, who missed a late conversion to level the scores.

But the away side prevailed – despite Stephens’ late effort and a yellow card for George Hendy – to hand their hosts a third defeat from three Premiership games.

Falcons director of rugby Alex Codling said: “I thought Northampton kicked really well in the second half, turned us round, but ultimately its’s small margins – we’ve come out on the wrong side, we dust ourselves down and we go again next week.

“For their points (in the first half) they didn’t have to do a huge amount and we had to work unbelievably hard for ours, but that’s rugby.

“At times, we didn’t kick as well as we should have done and in conditions like this that’s paramount. But again, massive credit to the players.

“The spirit was huge again, as it was last week. We missed a kick last week – a tough one – and again today. That’s no disrespect to the kickers – it’s tough – but that’s the margins at the moment, just one or two points.”


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