Northampton Vs Newport
Saturday afternoon saw a return to Europe at Franklins gardens as Northampton welcomed Newport Gwent Dragons. The two sides had met each other earlier in the competition with Northampton running out 35-21 winners. On a windy afternoon, the question was going to be could Northampton do the same and improve on last weeks performance. As eluded to in the previous blog a work on for us has been to hold onto possession and not gift it back to the opposition. It has also been, can we play in the right areas of the pitch and find the right balance to our game.
Saturday afternoon arrived, and it was a blustery one at that. We started the game perfectly with Luther Burrell scoring virtually from the kick off bustling under the posts. We cause the Dragons problems, by making good breaks down the wing and through the middle. However, as discussed earlier we were not holding onto the ball. Forcing offloads that aren’t on and gifting the dragons possession back. This meant that we couldn’t get any real pressure on them and the points were not as free flowing as we would have liked. This lack of controlling possession allowed the Dragons into the game as they had the ball and could attack us and make us defend for long periods of time. But our defence held strong and we entered the break with a 19-0 lead. Players such as Api Ratuniyarawa, Luther Burrell and Taqele Naiyaravoro were much to strong for the visitors defence.
The second half began and not much changed, we attacked well for periods, causing trouble and making breaks. But still lacked the control to hold the ball for long periods. It was simple to see, that when we did hold the ball we put them under pressure and they ended up making errors defensively. Dan Biggar control the team well, steering them round the pitch and making the dragons play from deep. We continued to score tries when we put long phases of possession together. Defensively we were quite sound all afternoon, only feeling under pressure when we gave away a penalty, which immediately puts any team on the back foot. Dragons went on to score a couple of tries for themselves as they showed no lack of heart. Unfortunately the game was all but gone and finished 48-14 with Northampton running out comfortable winners. This win takes us to 10 points from 3 games and still fighting to qualify from our pool.
Next weekend we travel to Timisoara Saracens from Romania. I have been told by a reliable source that it is quite a bit colder there at this time of year. I will make sure I take a couple of extra layers for warmth. We can expect them to have a big set of forwards who thrive off a set piece game. This means we will have to think about where we play and think about holding onto the ball for long periods. It is crucial this week that we get the balance right between playing lots of rugby and playing none at all. We will go there with the full intent to come away with 5 more points and keep our European hopes alive.
Thank you for your support as always.