Gaffney urges Saints to produce 'massive defensive performance' against Saracens

Alan Gaffney saw Saints lose to Saracens in January (picture: Kirsty Edmonds)
Alan Gaffney saw Saints lose to Saracens in January (picture: Kirsty Edmonds)

Alan Gaffney may have only been involved in one part of the tortuous Saracens trilogy, but he is in no doubt where Saints must significantly improve ahead of the fourth and final instalment this afternoon.

The black, green and gold have shipped an eye-watering total of 174 points in their three meetings with the men from Barnet this season.

Each of the three encounters can be placed firmly in the horror show category.

Saints were tormented at Twickenham on the opening day of the Aviva Premiership season, outgunned in the Champions Cup opener at Franklin’s Gardens and eviscerated at Allianz Park in January.

This weekend, they face Saracens at the Gardens once again, determined to finally do themselves justice.

And to do that, Gaffney, who arrived at Saints as technical coaching consultant at the turn of the year, knows his players must somehow step things up in defence for the full 80 minutes.

“The first 20 against Saracens down there in the Champions Cup, we fronted up, we got off the line in defence and we met them,” the Australian said.

“But after 20 minutes, we decided we didn’t want to do that any more, we decided to just sit back in a line and let the big Sarries forwards cart the ball to us.

“As soon as we allowed that to happen, they just totally dominated.

“It’s going to need a massive defensive performance against Saracens, without a doubt.

“They’ve got a lot of strength so it’s going to be a challenge, for sure.

“It’s going to rely on us getting our defence right.

“They don’t do a hell of a lot in attack - Owen (Farrell) is very creative, there’s no doubt about that. It was him who put us under pressure a lot in January.

“But if we get our defence right, we can match Sarries for a long part of that game.”

While Saracens were involved in a bruising Champions Cup quarter-final at Leinster last Sunday, Saints were able to put their feet up.

They have not played since suffering a 25-22 defeat to Newcastle at St James’ on March 24.

And they will be hoping that the rest period can prove crucial as they look to see off Sarries.

“The players got most of last week off - they came back in on the Thursday,” Gaffney said.

“It was the first real break they’ve had since the beginning of the season so a few were wandering around and getting away from rugby for a while.”