Saints forwards coach Dowson believes Bath are in a false position

Saints forwards coach Phil Dowson
Saints forwards coach Phil Dowson

Phil Dowson has warned Saints to expect a 'desperate' and 'full on' Bath side at The Rec on this afternoon (kick-off 3pm).

The forwards coach knows exactly what's in store for his table-topping team, who square up to the side currently propping up the league table.

Bath have lost both of their Gallagher Premiership away games so far, but did claim a creditable win in their only home match, against Exeter Chiefs.

And Dowson, who has helped Saints to secure three wins from as many league encounters this season, said: "Bath will be desperate and they'll be full on.

"Whenever I've watched them, you see how invested they are as a group and what (director of rugby) Stuart Hooper's trying to do.

"They've maybe been unlucky at times in the first few games but they've got a big pack with a lot of experience in there so from a forward pack's point of view on what is potentially a damp pitch, we have to make sure we're all guns blazing because it will be a big challenge.

"It's a good place to go and win but it's also a tough place to go and win.

"We're aware of the challenges that await us and the league position they find themselves in is slightly false.

"I can't imagine they'll be down there very long."

Saints know they will have to go toe to toe with an imposing Bath pack.

But they will be confident in their ability to do that, having put a real emphasis on adding power this summer.

"We've had a focus that we wanted to be slightly more powerful so one of the things (head of strength and conditioning) Tommy Bullough and his team have been doing is making sure the way the players lift, the way they run, the way they train has power as a big part of it," Dowson explained.

"You've always got to have a fit side to be able to cover grass and we want to continue that attribute but we're also a bit heavier, which makes a difference against sides like Exeter and Bath, who do have some big men knocking around."

Saints endured a slow start to last season, but it has been very different this time round.

With a full pre-season under their belts, they have shown improvement, with boss Chris Boyd now more than a year into his job.

"A year on from when Chris came in, everyone has more of an expectation of what's needed, how we're trying to play, which means we can add some finer details on," Dowson said.

"We have to keep evolving because obviously other teams will know that as well.

"We're definitely seeing it gelling a bit more but we're also seeing massive improvements at scrum time. The work (assistant coach) Matt Ferguson is doing is brilliant.

"We've got a better understanding of how we're trying to play."

Plenty of players have caught the eye at Saints so far this season, none more so than Henry Taylor.

The scrum-half was recruited from Saracens during the summer and has been in razor-sharp form for his new club.

"He has been brilliant," Dowson said.

"He's very professional, he's very good with the players around him, so he's a leader in that sense, and he shows a huge amount of energy in attack and defence.

"For any nine, those are pretty good attributes to have.

"He wants to go and play.

"He has got a good kicking game, but he's definitely an attacking force and he's keen to look for spaces.

"The way he defends and the way we use our nine really plays into his hands in being able to make decisions and organise the players around him."