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Exclusive: Lee Radford on embracing the pressure as Northampton Saints eye up title

New Northampton Saints defence coach Lee Radford has said Northampton Saints need to ’embrace’ the expectation on them, as they bask in a glorious run of form.

New Northampton Saints defence coach Lee Radford has said Northampton Saints need to ’embrace’ the expectation on them, as they bask in a glorious run of form.

Phil Dowson’s side have won their last eight matches in all competitions, including Friday nights huge 61-14 win over Top 14 side Bayonne. They have also already secured their spot in the last 16 in the Champions Cup, and are also sat at the top of the Gallagher Premiership after 11 matches.

This great run of form has inevitably led to some expectation placed on the Saints, however Radford told Rugby Nause News that the team should embrace this.

“I think you’ve got to embrace it,” he said. “When we played Sale, which was a top of the table clash, we spoke about really enjoying the intensity of that game, the media coverage, the pressure that comes with that, and against Exeter it was exactly the same.”

He added: “We knocked off a team that I don’t think has been beaten in two season’s at their own ground; top of the table clash, loads of media coverage, and that had all the hallmarks of knockout rugby, and obviously that’s where we want to get to the end of the season.”

Lee Radford on the quality of the Premiership

The Saints good run of form has seen them reach the summit in the Premiership for the first time since 2019; however they haven’t lifted the title since 2014 and face a tough test if they want to end the drought.

Northampton sit top of the pile on 39 points, however the chasing pack aren’t far behind. Harlequins and Bath are just three points behind on 36, forth placed Exeter are on 35 points and Sale and Saracens in fifth and sixth are still in touching distance of the summit.

The close nature of the Premiership this season certainly sets up a fascinating title, and Radford was quick to praise the rest of the sides competing at the top of the table.

“One thing that’s really surprised me and I’ve been really impressed with is how close the games have been. Most games are going down to the 75th minute and I think that’s exciting if you’re a rugby fan,” said Radford.

“I think the closeness of the actual competition, you look at the league table, one week can be top, and the next you can be dropping off to sixth or seventh. I think that’s appealing as well.”

“You should only be excited about how the competition is and not knowing which way it’s gonna go.”