Dowson salutes Saints' character after win at Saracens

Tom James was in the thick of the actionTom James was in the thick of the action
Tom James was in the thick of the action
Phil Dowson labelled Saints' thrilling 46-35 win at Saracens 'an outstanding spectacle'.

And Dowson, who takes over as director of rugby this summer, was delighted with how a squad of young players, debutants and more experienced heads kept bouncing back at StoneX Stadium on Saturday afternoon.

Saints were 14-13 down at half-time but they kept fighting, and every time Saracens landed a blow, the black, green and gold hit back.

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Frankie Sleightholme's debut try made sure of the win at the end of a frantic encounter, in which Saints scored seven tries.

And Dowson said: "It was a lot of fun.

"We had so many young players, players on debut and the way the game panned out with scores changing hands, it was an outstanding spectacle.

"We showed really good character in coming back from some of those setbacks.

"We wanted a win - and that's what we needed - but we also wanted to see how players cope in different environments.

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"It's important that players who haven't had many opportunities do get the opportunity to wear the Saints shirt.

"James Craig actually did a lot of coaching this week and led it really well with Sam (Vesty) and Ian (Vass) and Fergy (Matt Ferguson).

"I sort of had a backseat this week, which is probably why they played so well!

"I think we got what we wanted from the game because we wanted to see the guys play under pressure.

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"Lots and lots of guys put their hands up and showed they are capable of playing for Saints."

When asked which forwards impressed him, Dowson said: "Geordie Irvine was excellent and he got better as the game went on. He's a threat with ball in hand and he's working hard at his lineout game with James Craig.

"I thought George Patten, as a 17-year-old coming off the bench and playing 40 minutes longer than he would have expected to because of Ollie Newman's injury, was excellent. To play at that level for that period of time and to be so good at it, speaks volumes for him physically and mentally.

"(Bedford loanee) Luke Frost hasn't played for Saints before but he's been training with us on Tuesdays and Thursdays and it was a good reward for him.

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"Danny Hobbs-Awoyemi hasn't had many opportunities because of injury, Nick Auterac, all these guys.

"Ed Prowse got penalties at scrum time and he's been playing at Bedford, showing the benefit of that consistent rugby.

"I've missed loads of people out, but across that forward pack, there's loads of young guys who, through our system, have played loads of games at Bedford, have played or trained with England Under-20s, come in match fit, ready to play and have stood up today."

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