Marshall upbeat as Saints show signs of progress

Reece Marshall scored for Saints at Saracens last Saturday (picture: Sharon Lucey)
Reece Marshall scored for Saints at Saracens last Saturday (picture: Sharon Lucey)

The last time Reece Marshall was put up for interview after a game against Saracens, he was certainly not smiling.

Because although he grabbed a try on his first Premiership start, he had just been part of a team that was smashed 63-13 on home soil.

But things have changed a lot since that sobering day last April - and for the better.

Saints may have lost again against Saracens last weekend, suffering a 36-17 defeat at Allianz Park, but the fact they refused to crumble after shipping six tries says a lot about the increased positivity and belief among the black, green and gold ranks.

Marshall embodies that, with the likeable Lutonian typically upbeat when he met the media this week.

Again he had scored against Saracens, helping Saints to at least win the second half at Allianz Park.

And Marshall was in good spirits ahead of Saturday's game against Bristol Bears at Franklin's Gardens.

"We're obviously talking on the back of Saracens, which wasn't a great result for us, but in the weeks prior to that we'd been going really well," said the 24-year-old.

"We're starting to gel now, the fans are optimistic about how we're playing, we're optimistic about how we're playing and it's all coming together with a blend of youth and experience.

"It's different at the club now and I've gone through the transition of us maybe not being as good but everyone has their ups and downs.

"We got a lot of flak back then (at the end of last season) but now everyone's coming back and we're playing some really exciting rugby.

"The crowd are maybe more on our side now and it's nice to have the Gardens roaring again."

Marshall recently signed a new deal at Saints, keeping him at the club alongside a plethora of other young players with real potential.

"I'm very happy because it's an exciting time at the club," said the Academy graduate.

"A lot of the other boys have signed new deals and we've all played Wanderers together and it's all started to come to fruition for a lot of us.

"It's enjoyable for us and it was a no-brainer to sign for another couple of years because this team can grow together and it's only going to be good for me and the club."

With Dylan Hartley and Mike Haywood injured for much of the current campaign, Marshall has made five starts and 10 appearances as a replacement already this season.

That is exactly the same as he made during the entirety of the previous campaign, and his development is there for all to see.

"It's unfortunate Mikey and Dylan have been injured but (James) Fish had a massive go at it at the start of the year and I've come back at injury and been lucky enough to get games," Marshall said.

"Fishy and I have both been sharing the spoils and the rotation has been really good.

"For us two playing as much as we are now hasn't happened before so it's nice for us to not have to push our bodies all the way.

"Fish is a year younger than me and we get on really well. There's no animosity between us and we try to help each other out."

Marshall and Fish are now setting their sights on Saturday's key game at Franklin's Gardens.

Saints are currently sixth in the Premiership with 35 points but 10th-placed visitors Bristol Bears are only five behind.

And Marshall said: "It's a massive game this weekend.

"We set ourselves this block of four to see how we could come out of it and we knew it could be a big point in our season to push for the play-offs.

"It's a massive game and I'm really excited to be involved in it."