Dowson: Saints debutants will get massive confidence boost
Phil Dowson believes Saints' debut duo will enjoy a 'massive confidence boost' after making their bow at Bath on Saturday.
The black, green and gold handed first game time to flanker Ollie Newman and centre Tom Litchfield as they both came off the bench during the second half.
And though Saints eventually lost a roller coaster encounter 30-24, with a last-gasp Josh Bayliss try sealing their fate, the arrival on the scene of Newman and Litchfield was a positive.
“We’ve got an excellent Academy and we invest in that heavily in terms of time and effort," Dowson said.
“We’ve got some boys coming through, like Tom Litchfield in the centre and Ollie Newman making their debuts.
"That gives them a massive confidence boost going into pre-season. Hopefully, they can kick on from here."
Saints were ahead at the break at Bath, having scored three fine first-half tries, with Taqele Naiyaravoro notching a double and Rory Hutchinson producing a moment of magic.
A James Grayson score bagged Saints the try bonus point in the second period, but Bath kept coming back and eventually earned the win they wanted.
“We gave ourselves opportunities throughout the season to qualify in the top four but we missed out in certain aspects," said Saints forwards coach Dowson.
“We gave ourselves an opportunity to win the game on Saturday and we finished the first half brilliantly, but we couldn’t quite get that rhythm back in the second half.
“We hung in there, toughed it out a couple of times. It was frustrating really.
“The feeling throughout the whole season has been one of frustration but there are positives, such as in how the young lads are coming on.
"And there have been games in which we have performed really well.
“We weren’t brilliant in the line-out at Bath. We had the opportunity to try a few things and we were much better in the second half.
“It’s hard to win away. You just try to be within four points at the end – and we did that, but we didn’t quite execute in the last play.”