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Phil Dowson lauds ‘relentless and ruthless’ performance against Gloucester

Northampton Saints Director of Rugby Phil Dowson has praised his side for being ‘relentless and ruthless’ in their record-breaking victory over Gloucester. 

The Saints ran in a whopping 14-tries against Gloucester yesterday, including an Ollie Sleightholme hat-trick and braces for Sam Matavesi and Curtis Langdon.

Speaking to the media after the game, Dowson said: “We’d started well that first 40 minutes and we wanted to keep it on. We talked about trying to be relentless and ruthless and I thought we did that.”

He added: “I thought the bench coming on provided that energy as well in terms of sticking to our guns and making sure we went forward in what we were trying to do.”

The 90-0 win at Franklin’s Gardens was the biggest ever home win in Premiership history, and was the second-highest points total for a single game in the Premiership too.

With such a huge margin, Dowson said he could sympathise with his fellow Director of Rugby: “Yeah I think [I can sympathise]. I know George Skivington pretty well, Sam worked with him with England A.”

He added: “It’s never nice to be on the end of a 90-0 thumping, and I’m sure George and Don Waldock and all those good lads at Gloucester will take that and move it forward.”

He also pointed out both teams were building for different things: “There’s clearly different priorities going on. We had to do something today in order to guarantee a home semi, George is building towards a European final and also next season, so there’s different motivating factors.  At the same time we had a job to do, I wanted to push the players to stay really focused on what that was and not get too distracted by the score line or the occasion afterwards.”

Phil Dowson to rotate on a ‘case-by-case’ basis for Bath clash

Northampton Saints Director of Rugby Phil Dowson-Credit: IMAGO

Yesterday’s win over the Cherry and Whites ensured Northampton booked a home semi-final for the first time since 2014.

With one game still to go before their semi-final, Dowson has the opportunity to rotate his side for the Bath clash, however he said it’s a tricky balancing act to ensure they have momentum going into the play-offs.

“I think it’s risk and reward in terms of who you put in the firing line and also trying to maintain that momentum, trying to maintain that confidence and understand where we’re trying to move the group as a whole.”

“It becomes a debate on a case-by-case basis with the coaching staff, the medical group and the S&C group,” he continued. “We need to look at the minutes those players have played over the past nine months, have they been at the World Cup, have they been in camps and also the players who are desperate for an opportunity who haven’t played today.”

The Saints now turn their attentions to Bath in the final game of the season, with the West Country outfit needing a win to make sure of a play-off berth themselves.