A Tricky Time.
As I’m sure many of you have seen, heard or been a part of; it’s been quite a tough few weeks here at Franklins Gardens. Losing 8 out of the last 9 games has been hard to deal with and the pressure told on Tuesday morning when the club parted ways with Jim Mallinder. Jim was Director of Rugby at the Gardens for 10 years and guided us to a Premiership title in 2014. Personally only being relatively new at the Saints, I have seen a short snippet of what he has done, but it’s clear to see why he had so much success. Unfortunately, us as players haven’t been firing recently and like any sport, it’s a results business and people expect us to win. When you have such a bad run of games, it’s normal for the finger to be pointed at someone.
Here is a small recap of the last couple of games. 3 weeks ago we travelled up the M1 to a wet and windy Manchester. Sale Sharks stood in our way with a star studded team. The likes of James O’Connor, Marland Yarde and Faf De Klerk were in their back line. We had a young team and did exceptionally well considering the conditions. We left with a losing bonus point having lost 18-15 and turned down a kick at goal to leave with a draw. Going for the corner trying to push for the win and it didn’t quite go our way. Live by the sword, die by the sword I guess. We moved onto Newcastle the following week. Back at Franklins Gardens on a Friday night, with our internationals back. A massive chance to get a win on the board and push back up near the top 4. We started well, having scored the kick off… which was then referred to the TMO and proceeded to be disallowed. The first half was scrappy, but we dominated possession. Scoring 2 tries and having 2 or 3 disallowed meant we went in at half time 17-12 down. In the second half we took the lead and looked for all money that we’d scored again to put the game to bed. No. Another disallowed try. With 2 minutes to go, Newcastle made their way into our 22 and held onto the ball for umpteen phases before giving the killer blow. They scored in the last play of the game to take the win. 2 games back to back, that we should have and could have won. Not our day.
Finally, we moved onto Ospreys. Back in the European Cup, on a crisp Saturday night. Having prepared well all week, it began as a tight affair. The first half we went in 17-3 down. Not the end of the world. The next 20 minutes after half time, the Ospreys blew us away. Stretching to a 43-8 lead. It looked like it could be a cricket score. But the lads didn’t lay down and die. They fought and gradually clawed their way back into the game. With a few more conversions and maybe 1 less try that, Ospreys scored from our mistakes, we could have taken the match. The game ended up 43-32. Another defeat but plenty of positives that we could take into the following week.
Now we travel to Swansea. A chance to get revenge on the Ospreys. After a week of change at the club, we will be going there with a massive point to prove. One of real grit and determination. One to show that we are in a sticky patch, but we’re willing to fight our way out of it. You’ve got to remember it’s still pre Christmas. We’ve still got 5 months of rugby left. This season is very much still on, and we as a team know that we have to really step up.
Thanks for your continued support