Determination key as Saints continue to produce eye-catching scores

Attack coach Alan Dickens (left) has helped Saints to conjure up some eye-catching tries in recent times (picture: Kirsty Edmonds)
Attack coach Alan Dickens (left) has helped Saints to conjure up some eye-catching tries in recent times (picture: Kirsty Edmonds)

You wouldn't blame Alan Dickens for sitting back and watching some of Saints' recent try-scoring heroics on loop in his office.

But the club's attack coach is keen to stress that improvement is the only thing on his mind and he even admits he has forgotten who finished off some of the flowing moves in recent weeks.

Saints have scored two potential try-of-the-season contenders in as many matches, with Nic Groom putting the icing on the cake at London Irish and Mike Haywood adding the finishing touches to another blistering team effort against Harlequins last weekend.

They are moments that have illuminated the recent four-match winning streak, but it is not just this season that Saints have put together picture-book moves, as Dickens is keen to point out.

"We scored a lot of good tries at the back end of last season," he said. "A lot of the hard work started then.

"The amount of work players put into analysis, along with myself, is the reason for that.

"We've scored some good ones and I sometimes forget in terms of recalling who scored ones last weekend, but even when we score I talk about how we can improve and make it easier to score.

"It's good, but we've still got a lot to work on."

Dickens' drive for becoming better is clearly mirrored by his players.

And the coach, who was confirmed as full-time attack mentor back in February, having switched from taking charge of the defence, knows his team will have to take their A game to Kingsholm if they want to beat a forward-thinking Gloucester outfit on Saturday.

"They're a tough side," Dickens said.

"I know they're off a (57-10) loss against Sale last week, but they were unlucky.

"I've watched that game and you look at the stats, which show they had the ball most, they had territory and they had chances that would have changed the state of the game.

"Fair play to Sale, they capitalised on errors and put them away.

"We know the challenge this week. Gloucester will be hurting and they will be looking to put that right.

"They played Exeter first day of the season, the champions of the Premiership, and they turned them over.

"It shows they can go for 80 minutes, especially at home with the support of The Shed.

"Gloucester is one of the best places you can play.

"It's passionate, it's loud and it gets you going.

"It's a good place to play rugby."

The Saints coaches were left frustrated on Monday night as their attempts to get minutes into the likes of Tom Wood and Piers Francis, who were both set to return from injury, were thwarted.

The Wanderers' game at Wasps was postponed because an ambulance could not arrive at Ivor Preece Field on time.

And Northampton have now asked to be awarded the five points in the Prem Rugby A League, rather than playing the match at a later date.

"It's really frustrating the game was called off because we're really driven and competitive within the squad," Dickens said.

"Some of the back lines we've picked for the Wanderers games could be a Premiership back line.

"It's pleasing, it's causing competition and it's giving me a few headaches."

While several other Premiership clubs are struggling on the injury front right now, Saints are close to being able to call on a fully-fit squad.

And when asked why his club appears to be less affected than some others, Dickens said: "I think one of the biggest things is luck.

"In terms of the way we geared training this year, really early on we were doing live scrummaging, live mauling, working with the S&C department and the medical team.

"We've put procedures in place to hopefully prepare ourselves for a long season.

"There's a lot of science behind it, we're guided by the science but not ruled by it and a lot of luck is involved in the injuries.

"We've had our injuries - Dylan Hartley, Mitch Eadie, James Craig, Piers Francis, Tom Wood - and they're part of the game."