Foden expects Saints to be fit and firing for derby day

Perhaps the only frustration for Saints after last Friday's win at Sale was that there is not another game this weekend.

Wednesday, 8th March 2017, 2:32 pm
Updated Friday, 24th March 2017, 11:20 am
Ben Foden is looking forward to facing Leicester (picture: Kirsty Edmonds)

With the Anglo-Welsh Cup taking over the next two weeks, Jim Mallinder’s men, who finished runners-up to Saracens in Pool 1, will put their feet up.

And while the rest will do them good, allowing them to take in England’s final two Six Nations games and welcome the internationals back later in the month, Saints would dearly love to keep the momentum going straight away.

Because wins against Worcester Warriors and, in particular, the one against the Sharks last week, have provided a real boost.

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Saints have moved up to sixth in the standings and are now just four points off fourth-placed Bath with fifth-placed Leicester Tigers next to come, at Franklin’s Gardens on March 25.

“We’ve got two weeks off now and we always look at things in blocks,” said Ben Foden, who has been captaining Saints in the absence of England flanker Tom Wood.

“Obviously two of the past four games haven’t gone the way we’d liked, but we’re taking it step by step at the moment and it’s probably nice to freshen up.

“It will be nice to have the internationals back as well. We’re looking forward to watching them in their big games.

“We know it’s the big one for us next time out with us facing Leicester. We owe them one so we’ll put our minds firmly on that job and hopefully have a good couple of weeks to be fresh and ready for the derby day.”

Saints will hope to keep the win at Sale fresh in the minds as they look to beat Leicester for the first time since December, 2014.

The Tigers have won the past six meetings between the teams, but Mallinder’s men appear to have their buzz back a little having ended their AJ Bell Stadium hoodoo last Friday, winning at Sale in the Premiership for the first time since November, 2012.

And Foden said: “We were delighted.

“We asked for an 80-minute performance because we know how tough it is to win up there.

“We’d been there before and been on the end of a hiding a few times so we knew we needed to put in a big performance to keep ourselves in the hunt for the top six.

“We went there with a game plan, we knew it was going to be wet and we played the conditions really well.

“We leant on our forwards in mauls and scrums and Stevie Myler put us in the right positions to win the game.

“To get a bonus point at Sale is something not many teams will do this season so we’re obviously delighted.”

Tries from Ken Pisi, Michael Paterson, Mike Haywood and Ethan Waller bagged a crucial bonus-point win.

And Foden added: “We looked at the conditions, we knew it would be wet and Stevie Myler’s experience and quality showed.

“He pulled the strings and he had the platform of the forwards and then he could just drill the corners and make sure we were playing in the right areas of the field.

“We believed we could get the bonus point and we knew if we leant on it hard enough they would have to start playing wide and that’s when they would make mistakes.

“We showed we could capitalise on it in the end.

“Every away game in the league is a tough one and proud teams like Sale want to make their place a fortress and make it tough for teams to go there.

“So to do what we did on Friday was outstanding.

“We controlled the game, played to our strengths and there are not many teams who can do what we did there last Friday.

“It just shows how good this team can be when we stick to a game plan and we execute it.

“We did the simple things really well and it paid off.”