Saints' try guy Haywood sets sights on Gloucester

Mike Haywood has scored in the past two games (picture: Kirsty Edmonds)
Mike Haywood has scored in the past two games (picture: Kirsty Edmonds)

"Last season, top try scorer, so just aiming for that this year," says a smiling Mike Haywood.

The hooker has already etched his name on the scoresheet twice this season, dotting down in two of his three starts.

He is almost becoming prolific, having topped Saints' try-scoring charts with eight during the 2016/17 campaign.

And last weekend, Haywood was delighted to be able to finish off a flowing team move that helped Saints on their way to 30-22 victory against Harlequins at Franklin's Gardens.

"It was nice to actually score one that was not off a maul or a pick and go or something like that," the 25-year-old said.

"Luckily I was on the shoulder of Courtney (Lawes) and he offloaded. He did say to me that he probably could have carried it over.

"It was great work from Ace (Ahsee Tuala) because he made the break to begin with and he created the space for everyone.

"It was just good interplay."

But rather than sitting back and thinking about whether his try will make it onto the shortlist at the end-of-season dinner, Haywood has his mind firmly focused on the present.

And he knows Saints must continue to improve if they are to extend their four-match winning streak by beating Gloucester at Kingsholm on Saturday.

"The game against Quins, we made plenty of mistakes and there were a lot of things we could have done better," Haywood said.

"We were 100 per cent on our scrum ball, but near the bottom end of penalties given away on opposition ball. We've been working on that in training.

"There were a couple of things that didn't work in the lineout, where we were messing up calls and some overthrows, so we've worked on that as well.

"We're looking forward to Gloucester now."

Haywood was typically indefatigable last weekend, ensuring, once again, that Saints didn't struggle in the absence of skipper Dylan Hartley.

And the hooker said: "I'm happy, another 80 minutes.

"It's nice to get some game time so early in the year and I'm looking forward to more."

More is likely to come at Kingsholm on Saturday.

And Haywood knows Gloucester will be massively motivated, having suffered a 57-10 defeat at Sale Sharks last Friday night.

"They lost last weekend and they're going to be up for the game," he said.

"Gloucester is always a tough place to go and they've won both their games at home this season.

"They've got great fans so we just need to make sure we start with a bang."

Saints managed to squeeze past the Cherry and Whites at Kingsholm last season, winning 13-12 in a New Year's Day mudbath.

"It's where we had a scrum in the bottom corner and you got up from it and your foot was about a foot deep in the mud," Haywood said.

"It was a great place to go and the boys are really looking forward to it.

"They're trying to play a lot and they're trying to move the ball.

"We've got to be aware of the threats with people like (Jason) Woodward so it's going to be a tough game."

But if Haywood can maintain his try-scoring hot streak, Saints may just keep theirs going, too.