West: Saints will be ‘full on’ against Saracens

Dorian West knows Saints must be up for the physical battle
Dorian West knows Saints must be up for the physical battle
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Familiarity has often bred comtempt when it comes to Saints’ clashes with Saracens over recent years.

The teams have faced each other so often in various competitions that they’ve almost become sick of the sight of each other.

But there was no real mention of the rivalry that has built up between the clubs this week.

Instead, Saints are more concerned with their own aims than fuelling the pre-match fire.

Jim Mallinder’s men go into the Stadium MK showdown sitting seventh in the Aviva Premiership standings.

They have lost both of their last two games after agonising late heartbreak against Leicester and Wasps.

And now they know they must go toe to toe with the current Premiership and Champions Cup champions in the bid to get back in the top six.

“We’re very familiar with them,” said Saints forwards coach Dorian West.

“The international players play together and train together on a regular basis.

“We know lots about them. We know their game is based a lot on physicality, which is something we talk about a lot here.

“These games are big confrontations and whoever wins the physicality battle usually wins the game and I’m expecting no different this week.

“It’s a game we’ll be full on in.”

Though Saracens have been the dominant side in English rugby during the past couple of seasons, they do not currently sit top of the pile in the Premiership.

Wasps are still at the summit having scored in the final play of the game to beat Saints 32-30 at the Ricoh Arena last Sunday.

It was the second time in as many weeks that Saints had suffered last-gasp misery, having also surrendered a lead against Leicester Tigers on the previous weekend.

And West said: “It’s really frustrating.

“We’ve done enough in both games to win them and things just haven’t quite gone our way at the end and we’ve come unstuck.

“We’re working hard to put that right and we need to make sure we keep scoring the points we’ve been scoring and give ourselves a chance to win the games.”

Saints have just three matches of the regular-season remaining with today’s clash with Saracens followed by a tricky trip to Exeter Chiefs and a game at Franklin’s Gardens against Harlequins, who currently sit sixth, ahead of Mallinder’s men thanks to winning more league encounters.

And West knows just how vital it is that his side - who could qualify for the Champions Cup via a play-off if they finish seventh - make it into Europe’s top flight competitition.

“It’s obviously important, not just financially, but it’s where you want to test yourself,” West said.

“You want to give a good account of yourself and we’ve got a decent record over the years.

“Though we were disappointing in the Champions Cup this year, we got to the quarter-final last year and we want to give ourselves every chance of being in the competition next season.

“We’ve got three games left and we’ll be giving it everything we can to get into the Champions Cup.

“Hopefully there will be a big crowd in Milton Keynes for this match and the fans will know that we’re giving it everything we can to win the game.”