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“I’m just happy to win a derby”-Phil Dowson shakes off title talk

Director of Rugby of the Year Phil Dowson-Credit: IMAGO

Northampton Saints Director of Rugby Phil Dowson insists he’s not thinking of titles, despite another impressive showing against Leicester.

Phil Dowson’s men were 10-6 behind at half-time, however they rallied at the break and eventually ran away 40-17 winners at Franklin’s Gardens.

This latest win is Northampton’s ninth win from their last ten matches, and this run has seen them build a five-point lead at the top of the Premiership table.

Speaking to the media after the game, Dowson insisted his team are not aiming to make statements: “We’re not making statements, I’m just happy to win a derby.”

He added: “It’s gone from Bristol where we were disappointed, Saracens which was a super intense game, then the round of 16 and quarter final and the derby and into Twickenham this week against Quins.”

Northampton now prepare to face fellow Champions Cup semi-finalists Harlequins next weekend at Twickenham Stadium. This is another huge test of their title credentials, but Dowson said his team should be excited by these sorts of matches.

“It’s one thing into another, but that’s also a real positive. That’s what we want to be. As a group of players, we start the season there, the fixtures you want to play, you want to play Munster, you want to play them both home and away, that’s great. They’re one of the storied sides in European rugby, we want to take that challenge on; and likewise Quins at Twickenham. Perfect, let’s see who we are next week.”

Phil Dowson on reasons for rotating the squad

Credit: IMAGO

Northampton made six changes from the squad that beat the Bulls, with frontline players like Courtney Lawes and Ollie Sleightholme given a week off.

Commenting on his decision to rotate the squad, Dowson said: “you have to be mindful of all of it, in terms of minutes played, the energy levels, strength and depth. There’s lots of lads in that squad who still haven’t played today, all these guys who are still absolutely desperate to show what they’re about.”

He added: “We’ve got a really good group of people who are desperate and I think having the ability to bring in Robbie Smith and Tarek Haffer. For these guys to show what they’re about, I think that drives the energy through what is quite a monotonous part of the season.”

Northampton face a difficult run-in, with Harlequins, Bath and Gloucester all wedged in amongst a Champions Cup semi-final with Leinster, and Dowson knows he will need his full squad to achieve their aims.