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Phil Dowson focusing on ways his Northampton Saints side can improve despite glorious run of form

Northampton Saints Director of Rugby Phil Dowson has said his team should ‘congratulate themselves’ on being top of the Premiership, but he wants his side to make sure they’re at the top when the season ends.

The Saints are in the midst of a glorious run of form. They are unbeaten in their last eight matches, including their fantastic 61-14 win over Bayonne.

Furthermore, they sit top of both the Gallagher Premiership and their Champions Cup pool-and already have home advantage for the knock-outs.

Speaking ahead of his side’s Champions Cup clash with Munster this weekend, Dowson told Rugby Nause News they haven’t spoken about their great run.

“We don’t really talk about it to be honest. We said at Christmas there was some stuff around being top of the league and we made the point that nobody really cares. It’s great to be there, we want to be top of the league but we want to be top of the league when we’ve played everybody twice.”

The Saints come into this week’s match against Munster off the back of some huge wins. They of course hammered Bayonne last week, however their recent run has seen them get the better of Harlequins, Exeter, Saracens and Sale Sharks.

Whilst Dowson still believes his side should ‘celebrate’ their great run, he explained he wants to focus on ways his side can improve week on week.

“I think we have to do two things. We’ve got to congratulate ourselves on what’s been going well in our game and not worry too much about the table because the table is a reflection of our game.

“We need to work out what we’ve done really well, work out where we still need to get going, work out the things that have allowed us to do that-like training, attention and detail in meetings, our ability to apply it in training and put it under pressure and also our ability to play for one another when the game starts and that being the best day of the week and driving energy into a match day; those are the things that we’re really focused on.”

“We’re not talking about going on a run, we’re not talking about winning away from home, we’re talking about what our game looks like when it’s going well and if it’s not going well how do we get it back on track.”

Northampton Saints marching on in the Champions Cup

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The Saints are of in red-hot form, especially in Europe. Dowson’s side are just one of four teams that remain unbeaten going into the last pool matches, and have the third best points attack in the competition. They also boast the forth best defence in the Champions Cup.

However, they face their toughest challenge yet, as they cross the Irish Sea to face reigning URC champions Munster at Thomond Park.

Graham Rowntree’s side haven’t been at their usual best this season, however a Champions Cup tie at Thomond Park is still one of the hardest challenges in world rugby, but Dowson says his side still need to enjoy opportunities like this.

“I think there’s an element of enjoying the moment, particularly in Europe. You’ve got to enjoy the opportunities, because you don’t know how many times you’ll get to travel to Glasgow, how many times you get to play at Thomond Park, so I think there’s definitely an element of that.”

He added: “But I think it’s more a case of actually where can we get to if we really focus on ourselves and our performance and I think that’s probably more the pertinent thing is in terms of what allows us to perform really well on the weekend and can we drag that out of ourselves week in week out consistently.”