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George Furbank: NorthamptonSaints leaning to big game experience to win title

Northampton Saints have already had some huge games this season, but George Furbank knows it doesn’t get much bigger than the Premiership final. 

The Saints last tasted title glory in 2014, and now only Phil Dowson, Courtney Lawes and Alex Waller remain at the club from that group. But this iteration of Northampton players have had their fair share of big game experience.

They have made the top four in each of the last three seasons, and this year also took on Leinster in the Champions Cup semi-final. Their victory over Saracens last weekend also proved how much their game has developed to win in these high pressure matches, and fullback George Furbank believes they can rely on this again to lift the title at Twickenham.

“Our game has definitely developed, it’s in a better place than it was 12 months ago,” said Furbank. “Especially to help us win these big games. We’ve had experience of that this season already, we played Leinster away, and then even playing Saracens here in the semi-final.”

He added: “We’ve had a few good experiences out this season, and we want to use those lessons from those games to carry on to the final.”

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The Leinster defeat has been a real driving factor for Northampton’s end-of-season focus. They struggled to get a foothold in the game for the first 60 minutes, however when they did eventually throw some punches they pushed Leinster to the very brink, only losing 20-17 despite their slow start.

“The main takeaways from Leinster were just about being calm and composed,” George Furbank explained. “We probably weren’t as calm or thinking as clearly as we wanted to be in those first 20 minutes, which stopped us putting our game on the field.”

James Lowe celebrates second try against Northampton Saints-Credit: IMAGO

James Lowe celebrates second try against Northampton Saints-Credit: IMAGO

“Then we had to chase it back,” he continued. “Which we did pretty well, but I think you start big games like that and you’re always on the back foot and chasing the game. So we’ve spoken about being calm in our minds and our body’s firing.

Northampton again got off to a fairly slow start against Saracens. They were 6-0 down after the first quarter, but they imposed themselves much quicker and eventually raced into a solid lead.

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“Looking back [on the Saracens game], they probably started the game a bit better than us; but I felt like we rode that wave pretty well. They definitely had the up hand in the first 20 minutes, but were only 6-0 up.

“We felt like we got our game on the field after that and put some put some pressure back on them and ultimately get the scoreboard ticking over, which is which is massive in those games.”

George Furbank-Credit: IMAGO

“Then the second half I felt like we dominated the majority of that, took a couple of points again when we needed to. It wasn’t until the 78th minute when I started to get a bit nervous.”

Northampton Saints will be hoping their big game experience gets them over the line, but they are coming into the game with no illusions.

“It’s the last dance. You win this game and you come away with a trophy, you lose and you come runners up. It’s definitely the biggest game of the season for us. Playing Leicester away in that European semi-final was massive, but we’ve put ourselves in a position to go and win a trophy.”

Phil Dowson, Courtney Lawes and Alex Waller are all that remain from the last final, but a win today would bring everything full circle 10 years on.

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