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Northampton Saints

Phil Dowson wary of Gloucester threat

Northampton Saints Director of Rugby Phil Dowson is fully aware of the danger Gloucester pose, despite their league position. 

The Cherry and Whites have had a mixed season so far. They sit ninth in the Premiership, and are out of contention of a Champions Cup place; however they will still travel to the East Midlands in good spirit following their Challenge Cup semi-final win over Benetton.

Their current standing in the league leaves them with nothing to really play for, and Dowson told Rugby Nause News this makes them a dangerous team to face.

“I think that makes them very dangerous in that there’s no pressure on them,” he said. “They can come and express themselves how they want. They’ve been working on certain things throughout the season and they’ll be looking to make improvements.”

“We’ve got to make sure that we’re on our mettle and that we prepare appropriately to get our game on the field.”

Northampton know just how pivotal this game is to their hopes of a grand finish. They still sit pretty at the top of the table, but have lost two games on the spin. The most recent of which came against Leinster in the titanic Champions Cup clash, and Dowson feels this game is the best way for his side to air out the frustrations of their Dublin defeat.

“The players are aware of the opportunity that sits in front of us. The next challenge is Gloucester. We’ve got to make sure we prepare accordingly to make sure that we don’t fall short.”

The Saints will still be without key backs Ollie Sleightholme and Burger Odendaal for the match. Winger Sleightholme picked up a concussion against the Bulls in the Champions Cup, however centre Odendaal has been out of action with a hamstring injury.

Phil Dowson taking positives out of Leinster defeat

Phil Dowson-Credit: IMAGO

Whilst they are fully aware of the threat Gloucester pose, they will be battle hardened following their clash with Leinster.

After a slow start, Dowson’s men recovered well and pushed Leinster all the way. Late tries from George Hendy and Tom Seabrook clawed the visitors to within three points, but they fell agonisingly short of a spot in the final.

Commenting on the defeat, Dowson told Rugby Nause News he will still take plenty of positives from the game.

“Our intent, our work and our heart in the first half gave the opportunity to stay in it. Defensively, we were very good in the first half under tons and tons of pressure from a very good side.”

Despite taking lots of positives from the game, Dowson also detailed the ‘frustration’ his side felt post game.

“We’re frustrated about lots of things that we did in the first half, and we know how we can be better. That’s a positive we can take out of it, so we can be better next time and we can create more pressure.”

The clash against Leinster was Phil Dowson’s second semi-final as Director of Rugby in all competitions; but a win against Gloucester would go a long way to ensuring the third in his reign is at home.