Saints ready to stay under the radar

Jamie Gibson believes Saints can go under the radar in their bid to make the Aviva Premiership top four this season.

Wednesday, 16th November 2016, 5:12 pm
Updated Thursday, 17th November 2016, 3:15 pm
Jamie Gibson is desperate to help Saints push up the Premiership table (picture: Sharon Lucey)

Jim Mallinder’s men have made a sluggish start to the league season, winning just three of their seven matches to date.

But with games against Worcester Warriors and Newcastle Falcons coming up, they will be hopeful of making their record look more impressive.

And after three successive victories in all competitions, flanker Gibson feels his team can slowly creep up the league table, which currently sees them sitting eighth.

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“The league is, in some ways, split into little blocks and that gives you the opportunity to focus on those matches,” Gibson said.

“If you can take each block at a time and build results, without people even thinking about it, then come Christmas everybody will be like ‘oh wow, we’re further up the league than we expected.’

“In some ways it’s quite good to take other sides unawares to an extent. It’s started over the last few weeks – a lot of young players have come in with a point to prove and they’ve made it.

“They’ve put pressure on some of the more senior players, who themselves have had a bit of a rest and have come back in refreshed.”

So just how important is Friday’s return to Premiership rugby for Saints?

“It’s a big, big match,” Gibson said.

“We’ve had a good two-week block in the Anglo-Welsh Cup and we’ve had a good five or six weeks overall.

“We didn’t start very well, but results have been turning in the right direction and over the next two, three, four weeks we’ve got a chance to make a statement to the league.

“We want to push up that table, and it all starts on Friday.

“Last year, Worcester were fired up in their first game of the season at home, with Phil Dowson and GJ (van Velze) in their side.

“We didn’t take our opportunties, let them stay in the game and they are a dangerous side.

“They’ve got a big, heavy bunch of forwards and a back line that can hurt you.

“We need to make sure we perform, but if we can pick up a win at a place other sides struggle at, it’s a statement.”

While their focus will solely be on Worcester, Saints will be desperate to keep their winning run going into December.

The first game of next month sees Mallinder’s men take on Leicester Tigers at Welford Road.

And former Tigers forward Gibson said: “It starts this week against Worcester.

“Then we’ve got a tough game against Newcastle and then we’ve got Leicester.

“It’s amazing how momentum affects things and those derby matches are always massive.

“They’re huge, huge games, the atmosphere and intensity around is always a little bit more in the week leading up to it and we will want to win.

“This Friday is our chance to put our first marker down and Worcester are a tough side, who will hurt you if you don’t execute your game plan.

“But if you can win games away from home in this league, sides will start to notice you.”