Chris Boyd fears his stuttering Northampton will fall short of reaching the Gallagher Premiership play-offs – even if they win the remaining five matches of their 2019/20 campaign, starting on Friday night versus runaway leaders Exeter.   

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In sixth place with 40 points, Saints are currently seven points off fourth-placed Wasps following an unconvincing restart where they have won just one game in four. They are also without a league win at Franklin’s Gardens in 2020, having lose their last five games there, included post-lockdown clashes with Wasps and Bath.

Those frustrating results have left Boyd fully aware of the size of that task Northampton are facing, especially with Exeter, their Champions Cup quarter-final opponents at Sandy Park on September 20, the first hurdle they much clear to revive their league campaign.

“Obviously one out of four is unacceptable and we’re not happy with that,” he said on Wednesday over a Zoom call media conference. “We’ve had a poor return since Covid.

“The players are not stupid, they know we have wedged ourselves into a hole. Even if we win five games out of five, taking 20 points, then 60 points is probably not going to be enough to get into the top four. I reckon it might be 62 that is required, but obviously that depends on the results in the other games.

“If you look at what is left to play: Bath versus Wasps is a pivotal game, Bath go to Harlequins, that’s a pivotal game. We play Exeter, that’s pivotal, and that goes on and on.  I’m not sure where it’s going to end up, but I would be very surprised if Exeter, Sale and Bristol don’t make the top four.

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“With the points they have got now and the capability of winning, I’d be surprised if it’s not those three. And then obviously you’ve got probably four or five teams scrapping out that last position.”

A Champions Cup shellacking last December by Leinster was the pre-cursor to Northampton’s poor home league form during a disrupted 2020. Boyd, though, doesn’t want to get too hung up on the Franklin’s Gardens issue, claiming Saints need to start winning regardless of where they are playing.   

“The home bit is emotionally important, but we need to win. Whether we’re playing here or in Timbuktu we need to win at the weekend and need to find a way to produce a performance that gives us that victory. The home part is emotionally disappointing, that we haven’t done well at home.

The break with Covid and the no crowds has probably softened that a little bit, in respect that the only people that seem to be worried about the five games tend to be the journalists.

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“It’s bloody disappointing because we back ourselves that if we have a good performance we should give ourselves an opportunity to be there and thereabouts from an outcome point of view.

“Obviously there’s a couple of teams that are going really well, particularly Exeter, and you can play really well against them and still come out on the wrong side of an outcome from them.

“But we, like most teams, would say if you bring your A game and get a little bit of luck then you have got a chance of winning.”

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