West feels Saints have learned from European losses

TOUGH TO TAKE - Leinster were big winners at Franklin's Gardens last December (Picture: Linda Dawson)
TOUGH TO TAKE - Leinster were big winners at Franklin's Gardens last December (Picture: Linda Dawson)

Dorian West is hoping Saints have learned the lessons from last season’s Heineken Cup disappoitment as they return to Europe’s top table this weekend.

Racing Metro provide the opposition in Paris on Saturday night as the new Rugby Champions Cup gets underway.

Saints tasted Amlin Challenge Cup glory at the end of the previous campaign, having dropped into the tournament from the top tier competition.

An opening-day defeat to Castres and a home humbling at the hands of Leinster were to cost Jim Mallinder’s men dear as they missed out on the Heineken Cup last eight.

But West believes those losses can be used as inspiration ahead of this weekend’s mouthwatering Pool 5 clash with Top 14 giants Racing.

“It came down to the odd result last season,” said the Saints forwards coach.

“We underperformed at home against Leinster, which was disappointing, but then we produced a bit of magic on the road and beat them on their own ground. That’s something we’ll remember.

“We learned those lessons from underperforming on certain occasions and hopefully we won’t let that happen again.”

The 19-13 defeat at Castres was particularly disappointing for Saints as they had enough possession and territory to have claimed the win.

As it was, the opening-day reverse left them on the back foot, heaping the pressure on the Leinster home game, which ended in a chastening 40-7 defeat.

And West said: “We were a little bit frustrated (at Castres). We came away from that game knowing we underperformed slightly but gave a good account of ourselves and caused them a few problems.

“Things didn’t quite go our way, we had a few decisions we weren’t very happy with and those things are sometimes important away from home against good opposition.

“Now we’re just looking forward to the challenge of this campaign and it’s one we’re really focused on and up for.”