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Phil Dowson calls for his side to get ‘intensity’ right against Munster

Northampton Saints Director of Rugby Phil Dowson says his team are fully aware of the test that lies ahead of them this weekend as they welcome Munster to Franklin’s Gardens.

The last-16 clash between the sides this weekend will be their third meeting since January 2023, and their second in this season’s Champions Cup.

The pair met during the pool stages, with Dowson’s side coming out with a heroic 26-23 win thanks to a Sam Graham try.

The result at Thomond Park last time out will be used as motivation for the reigning URC champions, but Dowson said his side need to get the ‘intensity’ right if they hope to make it two on the trot against the Irish province: “I think we’re well aware of what’s coming, and I think we have to make sure our intensity is right so that we don’t get surprised by how they come out of the blocks.”

“We know that Munster will be hurting from what happened when they played us, that they’ll have a grudge to bear and that they won’t be slow in coming forward to make sure we feel that.”

Northampton have become known for their silky attack this season, however Dowson has also highlighted the bombardment his teams will be facing from their opponents this weekend.

“Munster have highest ball-in-play attack in the URC and their ability with their 9 and 10 to put big runners into spaces, but once they get into 22 that pick-and-go game is incredibly hard to stop,” he said.

“You see two sides of both attacking shape and flare, but they keep the ball for long periods of time and put you under pressure.”

Dowson on key head-to-heads

Northampton Saints v Exeter Chiefs, Northampton, UK – 12 Nov 2023 Northampton Saints Head Coach Phil Dowson looks on prior to the Gallagher Premiership Rugby match between Northampton Saints and Exeter Chiefs at Franklins Gardens, Northampton on 12 November 2023. – Copyright: xPatrickxKhachfe/PPAUKx PPA-068144

Northampton Saints and Munster both have star-studded squads, but one area that sets them apart is their number 6.

The head-to-head between modern day greats Courtney Lawes and Peter O’Mahony will undoubtedly get fans licking their lips, and it’s a match-up even Dowson is excited to watch.

“They’re two talisman figures, both incredible players and I think that’s just one of the mouth-watering elements of the game this weekend, to see how that pans out. That one is particularly juicy.”

He was also quick to point out other key battles across the pitch, including the clash of young fly-halves Fin Smith and Jack Crowley.

“You’ve also got two 10s who play on the international stage, there’s caps throughout their group and there’s a lot of lads who are pretty hungry for that opportunity in ours as well. I think across the pitch there’s match-ups.”