Saints forward Dowson backing the backs to come good

DISTANT MEMORY - Tom May scores in the win at Sale Sharks in November
DISTANT MEMORY - Tom May scores in the win at Sale Sharks in November
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Phil Dowson is adamant Saints aren’t over-reliant on their forwards – despite the backline’s current try drought.

No member of Northampton’s backs division has scored a try since Tom May grabbed the third in the first half of the 27-16 win at Sale on November 30.

That’s more than 360 minutes of rugby without a back crossing the whitewash, though Ben Foden’s effort against Harlequins was contentiously ruled out for a forward pass.

Forwards GJ van Velze and Dowson are the only men to score since the Sale success, but the latter denies Saints place too much emphasis on their pack.

“I’m sure sides look at our team and say that’s a strength but you’d do a disservice to the guys in the backline to say that’s our only weapon,” said England flanker Dowson.

“What we need to do is keep evolving and sometimes in rugby you’ve got to worry less about what the opposition do and worry about what your core abilities are and what you do really well.

“Maybe we’ve moved away from that, maybe we haven’t performed as we could do.

“We’re not going to focus entirely on the opposition and what they’re going to do, we’re concerned about what we do at scrum time, what we do in loose play and how we win games.”

Saints sit sixth in the Aviva Premiership standings as they head west to take on top-four rivals Exeter Chiefs at Sandy Park.

But Jim Mallinder’s men remain just two points adrift of a play-off spot and Dowson stressed the competitive nature of this year’s competition.

“You don’t have to be top of the table all year to win the league and lots can happen between now and the end of the year, in terms of injuries, results, coaching departures, coaches coming in,” he said.

“No one knows what’s around the corner. The only thing we can control is how we train and how we play. We train pretty hard and we play pretty hard.

“The league’s more competitive now. You see sides like Exeter and Gloucester and these guys who are keen to get involved and be in the top four come the end of the season. Bath are getting up there, a couple of wins and they’re in the top four, so it’s a competitive league.”