Dorian West believes Newcastle Falcons are the most improved side in the Aviva Premiership.
And he says Leicester’s defeat at Kingston Park last week has sharpened Saints’ focus ahead of Sunday’s game at the same ground.
Newcastle have won five successive home games in all competitions, culminating in last Friday’s superb 26-14 success against the Tigers.
The Falcons are now off the bottom of the Premiership and looking good to secure survival.
And West knows they have come a long way since Saints smashed them 42-16 at stadium:mk in October.
“Fair play to Newcastle - they’ve beaten Leicester, Quins and Bath on their own pitch and they played well at Wasps recently as well,” said the Saints forwards coach.
“They’re in good form, they play well on that pitch, they’re a well-coached team and we know it will be a real test.
“I think they are the most improved team in the league.
“They’re showing a lot of good stuff. They’ve got a good set piece, not just mauling lots, they play away from the maul as well and create a lot of opportunities.
“You saw their back three playing last week and tearing Leicester to shreds, so it’s been good for us in a way that they’ve been so successful at home.
“It gives us something to focus on and makes sure we’re really at our best.”
Saints have also found some form in recent weeks, winning their past two Premiership games.
They have a chance to win three league matches in a row for the first time this season by beating the Falcons this weekend.
And West said: “The last couple of weeks we’ve played particularly well.
“We executed a lot of things we talked about last week, which is always pleasing, managed to score a few tries and we’re showing some good form.
“We play good sides week in week out and they’re never going to lie down and let you play the style of rugby you want to play.
“The conditions we’ve had this year – I can’t remember playing in the dry so it’s been difficult, but I think in the last couple of weeks we’ve been more accurate with the things we’ve been trying to do and our handling has been a lot better.
“We know that if we play at pace and if we keep the ball for phases then we’ll score tries, so it’s been pleasing in that respect.”