Dowson: Saints must be much better to beat Harlequins

The message at Saints this week is clear: 'We're going to have to be far better than we were at Bath'.

By Tom Vickers
Wednesday, 27th April 2022, 12:02 pm
Phil Dowson

Because while the black, green and gold ultimately prevailed at The Rec, masterminding the most incredible of comebacks in a 36-31 success, they know they got away with one.

Bath were 31-12 up with just 15 minutes to go and the Gallagher Premiership's bottom side appeared to be cruising to a rare league win.

But Saints woke from their slumber and turned the tables in dramatic fashion, with Mike Haywood's last-gasp try securing a memorable away triumph.

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Now though, the challenges get much harder as Saints prepare to face Harlequins at cinch Stadium at Franklin's Gardens on Friday night.

And forwards coach Dowson said: "We'll have to be far better.

"Any time you get into a situation 31-12 down with 17 minutes to go, you're probably not going to win that game.

"We felt we were fairly inaccurate in lots of things we did, and inaccuracies will get punished, particularly by a side like Quins.

"Turnover play and opportunistic tries can come from anywhere against Quins and you're going to get punished badly - and we have done this season in the past.

"We're aware we weren't up to scratch but also really pleased with the character we showed so it was a bittersweet one last weekend."

Saints have moved up to fourth in the Premiership after both Exeter and Gloucester lost last weekend.

And with three games to go, belief is buiding that they can book a place in the play-offs.

"There's definitely confidence," Dowson said.

"We're on a decent run of games in the Premiership and we've played some good rugby at times.

"There's definitely a belief in the group that we can trouble any side when we get it right, we've just got to start better and be more consistent in keeping sides out.

"It's a constant struggle to make sure we're staying on top of our game, but we should be there or thereabouts come the end of the season."

But Saints do not have a good recent history against champions Harlequins, and they lost the most recent meeting between the sides, 41-27 at Twickenham back in December.

"We started really well and got our game on the park but then just fell into the trap of the way they play and they scored a lot of points, particularly late on," Dowson said.

"We know how dangerous they are, we know some of their threats but sometimes people underestimate the nuts and bolts of their game, which are very strong."