Dragons 10 Saints 42: Tom Vickers' review

Though wins are not the be-all and end-all during pre-season, there is no doubt Saints will be happy to have bookended their week in Wales with back-to-back successes.

Saturday, 18th August 2018, 1:58 pm
Updated Sunday, 2nd September 2018, 10:09 pm
Saints were made to scrap by the determined Dragons (pictures: Kirsty Edmonds)

After all, nothing sparks a feel-good factor quite like the taste of seeing off the opposition.

And the really good thing for Saints is that neither of the two matches, against Ospreys and Dragons, have been particularly straightforward.

Yes, the 42-10 scoreline from Rodney Parade on Friday night will seem comprehensive.

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It will look as though Saints largely had it all their own way.

But that is definitely not the case.

Because as at Ospreys six days earlier, when Saints bounced back from a 6-0 deficit to win 26-13, Chris Boyd's men were given a stern examination.

The Dragons began the game with real fire and desire, overpowering their opponents at the breakdown and getting on top in the contact area.

Saints have shown plenty of togetherness during their week in Wales

A Rhodri Williams try plus five points from the boot of fly-half Josh Lewis rewarded the Dragons' dominance.

And Saints had to come up with some solutions as they struggled to deal with the pressure that was put on them.

It affected decision-making during the formative stages of the encounter and there is no doubt that the away side were rattled, with their hosts backed by a crowd of more than 3,000.

But Saints were eventually gifted a way back into the game with an interception try for Ken Pisi, and another followed soon after for rapid scrum-half Cobus Reinach.

Lewis Ludlam and James Haskell in action for Saints

That gave Saints, who made wholesale changes at half-time, a platform on which to build.

And they certainly did that as their second-half side shut the door on the Dragons, scoring freely, with hooker James Fish helping himself to a hat-trick.

The Dragons didn't score a single point in the second period, but it wasn't for the lack of trying as they mounted one attack that lasted for several minutes.

But Saints stood tall, repelling attack after attack as they again showed the character that has been so evident during the two games so far.

The trip to Wales was designed as a team bonding exercise and it certainly seems that a steely togetherness has been created.

That will be crucial throughout a Premiership season that promises to be tougher than ever.

And if Saints do succeed when it really matters in the campaign ahead, they will look back on their week in Wales with plenty of gratitude.