Attack coach Vesty delighted and proud as young Saints show versatility

Attack coach Sam Vesty was impressed with how Northampton Saints adapted to the injuries that left them with a slightly unbalanced line-up by the end of their 34-26 victory over Newcastle Falcons.

By Matt Wright
Wednesday, 30th March 2022, 10:32 pm
Updated Wednesday, 30th March 2022, 10:34 pm
Ethan Grayson on the attack for Saints in their win over Worcester
Ethan Grayson on the attack for Saints in their win over Worcester

Saints already needed to get used to some new combinations in what was their last game in this season’s Premiership Rugby Cup.

They did, however, end up with four front-row players on the pitch and one or two others having to play out of position during their five-try victory at Franklin’s Gardens.

That included Karl Garside going into the back row, George Patten having to move into the second row and loosehead prop Leroy O’Neil having to make his debut at tighthead, with the reshuffles coming after knocks to Duane Willemsen, Tom Lockett, Geordie Irvine and Ed Prowse.

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George Hendy on the run for Saints

Vesty said: “It was hugely disruptive and this group haven’t spent an awful lot of time together anyway and we put that into the mix.

“It was perfect, sort of, Wandies football (Wanderers are the Northampton second team), back in the day when it was Wandies, but it was that sort of game tonight and we learned quite a lot about players in those situations, in terms of who steps forward, who stays calm, who panics.

“I think I was panicking more than the players there, and I thought they did a really good job there.”

Vesty also confirmed that the decision to bring off Taqele Naiyaravoro just over half an hour into his first game of the season, following a long absence with serious a knee injury, was pre-planned.

Saints celebrate Reece Marshall's second-half try

While the big winger was one of the senior names involved, the night mostly belonged to Saints’ youngsters, with scrum-half Jake Garside grabbing a try on his debut and centre Tom Litchfield also among the scorers.

It was their performances, along with those of George Hendy, Josh Gillespie and Patten, that allowed Northampton to maintain their recent momentum and record their fourth straight win, in all competitions.

Vesty said: “It was good to see Jake Garside start the game so well – he’s just come back from an injury and is very, very fast.

“I thought George Hendy was excellent in the last two games. He’s a skilful guy and he’s an athlete as well, he’s playing fantastically well.

“I thought Hobbsy [Danny Hobbs Awoyemi] was very good tonight, having to go 80 minutes and lead, still carry and do all of that.

“I think he got cramp in the 78th minute, so he’s obviously feeling pretty fit at the moment.”

Results elsewhere on Wednesday night meant Saints bowed out of the competition, despite the bonus-point win, but Vesty believes they got exactly what they wanted out of it.

He was also happy with how the fringe players have kept the recent spell of good form ticking over, saying: “I think they’ve played in the vein we want to play as well, as in the work rate and the hustle we talk about.

“That has been excellent throughout the last five or six weeks and it’s what we want to be as a team, that’s what we want to have right at the core of what we’re doing.

“I think that’s been excellent and both teams have delivered that and when we play fast, we can move teams around really well, and I feel both teams have done that very well.”