Dickens expects Saints to step it up at Kingsholm
Assistant coach Alan Dickens expects Saints to raise their game in front of a passionate crowd at Kingsholm on Saturday.
Jim Mallinder’s men head to Gloucester to play at a ground they have not won at since September, 2012.
They have come close during the past two seasons, drawing 33-33 last time round and losing to a last-gasp Billy Twelvetrees penalty the year before.
But Saints know they must win this weekend to guarantee a top-six spot and Champions Cup rugby for next season.
And Dickens said: “We drew last year, end-to-end stuff, and the year before we don’t quite like to talk about because we lost last kick of the game.
“We’re under no illusions because it’s a tough, tough place to go, but a club with heritage and tradition.
“It’s a place I like going because of the supporters, who are very vocal, very passionate.
“You can raise your game and it’s a good place to play rugby.”
Injury-hit Gloucester grabbed a fine win at Sale last weekend, ending the Sharks’ unbeaten home record in the Aviva Premiership.
And Dickens said: “Gloucester have done something this year that no one else has in that they’ve been to the AJ Bell Stadium and come away with a win.
“No doubt they will be pretty positive. I’m sure they will be confident in themselves.”
Saints were also winners last weekend as they battled back from 14-0 down to beat Bath 15-14 at Franklin’s Gardens.
And Dickens said: “We were pretty hard on ourselves on Monday morning because we got into good positions but then just relinquished possession.
“If we get into those positions this week we need to be accurate and disciplined with the ball and hopefully we’ll get our rewards.”
But will the feeling be one of nervousness or determination this weekend, with Champions Cup rugby on the line?
“It’s a determination,” Dickens said.
“We’ve had to reassess our goals because obviously the goal was top four.
“That was taken away after the Leicester game and now we want to finish top six.
“We want to play in the top-level tournament next season.”