Difficult day at Clermont has made Saints prop Jamal stronger

Prop Jamal Ford-Robinson is aiming to push on at Saints (picture: Kirsty Edmonds)
Prop Jamal Ford-Robinson is aiming to push on at Saints (picture: Kirsty Edmonds)

As far as first starts for a new club go, there will be far easier than the one Jamal Ford-Robinson endured at Saints.

Thrust into the front row for the Stade Marcel Michelin showdown with Clermont Auvergne, the former Bristol tighthead prop was hauled off after 40 minutes as the French giants dominated up front.

But Ford-Robinson's agony wasn't to end there as he had to return to the field when Kieran Brookes was sent to the sin bin.

And a bad day became a complete write-off when the 24-year-old suffered a calf injury that would keep him out of the following week's Aviva Premiership game against Wasps.

But, as they say - what doesn't kill you makes you stronger.

And despite that difficult experience at one of European rugby's most impressive grounds, Ford-Robinson still looks back on it with a smile.

And he is determined to use it to make him better as Saints, who he joined during the summer.

"They (Clermont) are a very tough team to play against and it was a very tough place to go," said Ford-Robinson, who impressed for the Wanderers earlier in the season, scoring three tries in as many outings.

"I think I'm stating the obvious in saying it wasn't the best day out for me. I struggled in the scrums.

"As an experience, I couldn't ask for any more because it was my first European game at one of the best places to play.

"It was a real good memory.

"I came off as a tactical sub at half-time because we wanted to get Brookesy on to solidify the scrum and I got another 10 minutes when he got his yellow card.

"That was when my calf went."

Ford-Robinson was fit enough to take his place on the bench for last Saturday's game at Exeter, but it was to be another irksome afternoon for everyone of a Northampton persuasion.

Saints again lost the forward battle and were beaten 43-28, meaning they have now lost five successive matches.

And Ford-Robinson said: "It's not been very good, has it? There's not too much more that you can say about it.

"We've put in a couple of good performances but not come away with the win.

"A few areas have let us down and we've been working on those, but it's not been anywhere near what we expect of ourselves."

So just how can Saints up their game in the scrum?

"We've been looking at it in a bit more detail," Ford-Robinson said.

"When things are going good you can get a bit complacent and just keep doing the things you're doing and then when you come up to a bump in the road you've got to start looking at things.

"We've been putting some more work in with technique and getting stuff done in the gym.

"Hopefully we can see some improvements on that."

Saints will hope those improvements come in the Anglo-Welsh Cup game against the Dragons at Franklin's Gardens on Saturday evening.

They know they must end their run of five successive defeats before returning to the Premiership with a game at Worcester Warriors on November 18.

And Ford-Robinson said: "We wanted to use the Anglo-Welsh run of games to build some momentum up going back into the Premiership and we failed to do that last weekend so this is our next opportunity.

"We're at home, we've got a strong side out and we're trying to get that momentum back for the boys going into the Prem.

"It's always good to play at home and it's something we look to target.

"We've got a chance to put things right and the mood's never really dropped.

"We've always been pretty positive and we want to push on and correct things. This week is the next opportunity to do that.

"It's been a big focus of ours to work on our defence and we're hoping for a big improvement on that this weekend."