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Phil Dowson hoping Northampton Saints can avoid ‘score-off’ with Harlequins

Northampton Saints Director of Rugby Phil Dowson has said his team need to front up in defence this weekend, as they face resident entertainers Harlequins. 

The game, which will take place at Twickenham, sees two of the best attacking sides in the league going toe-to-toe; but Dowson is hoping to avoid a ‘score-off’.

Speaking to members of the media ahead of the game, the Saints DOR said: “I really hope [it’s not a score-off], but I think that’s obviously a possibility. Two sides with the highest ball in play in the league, two sides who generally create opportunities to score. You’ve seen that recently with Quins, in the last three or four seasons the score line has been pretty high and so there’s that risk.”

He added: “At the same time I want our defence to be really good this weekend, to try and shut some of those threats down. The better we do in that space the more chance we are winning.”

Whilst Dowson is keen to avoid this, both teams are in a free-scoring mood. Northampton Saints have scored a collective 99 points in their last two games, with Quins also notching 73 points from their previous fixtures as well.

Northampton Saints boss Phil Dowson on the energy driver Lee Radford

Credit: IMAGO

If Northampton are to hold out Harlequins this weekend, they will need the expertise of defence coach Lee Radford. Since his arrival at Franklin’s Gardens, the former Hull FC and Castleford Tigers head coach  has overseen a dramatic shift in their defence. They had the second-worst defensive record last season, ending the year with a points difference of just 1 (yes, 1), but they now boast the joint-sixth best defence and aren’t far off being the top (just 35 points separate them and the best defence in the league-Leicester Tigers).

In big occasions like this, Dowson detailed Radford is one of the main energy drivers within the group: “I think he comes into his own in the fact that he’s been a head coach before, by the fact that he’s coached on the international stage before, by the fact that he hasn’t been to Twickenham that many times.

He added: “That then becomes an energy drive for him to see what that’s all about and for something different for him and he can definitely drive some energy to the group on that front.”