Facing Saints was strange for Warrior Dowson

Phil Dowson returned to Franklin's Gardens with Worcester on Friday (picture: Kirsty Edmonds)

Phil Dowson returned to Franklin's Gardens with Worcester on Friday (picture: Kirsty Edmonds)

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Phil Dowson admits it was ‘odd’ to square up to Saints at Franklin’s Gardens.

But he relished the challenge of taking on his former team-mates and is now ready for the competitive clash between his old and new clubs at Sixways next week.

Dowson, who made 186 appearances for Saints before leaving for Worcester during the summer, started for the Warriors in the behind-closed-doors friendly on Friday afternoon.

They were 15-0 up when the 34-year-old was replaced at the break but Saints stormed back to win 33-27, with a last-gasp Ethan Waller try proving decisive.

Now all of the focus is on the start of the Aviva Premiership, which has thrown up an opening-day fixture between Worcester and Saints on Friday night.

And when asked how it feels to face his former club, Dowson said: “It is odd, but it is one of those things.

“I did it with Newcastle and you do move around, playing different teams so you get a handle on it.

“It’s good to get straight into it, no hanging about, get amongst it and play against the side that finished top of the table.

“We’re aware of what a challenge that is, but it’s something to embrace and enjoy.

“It clears it all out of the way playing against your old club and I’ll just get stuck in and see what happens.”

Friday’s friendly gave Saints their first chance to play in front of the new Barwell Stand, which has been built in place of the old Sturtridge Pavilion.

And Dowson is a big fan of the redevelopment work that has been done since he departed the Gardens.

“It looks great,” he said.

“I love the fact it’s been called the Barwell Stand. It’s a tremendous thing for the club because he (Leon Barwell) did so much for Saints.

“It was tragedy that he passed away so early and it’s a testament to his memory.

“It makes it into a first-class facility.”