Dingwall looks to help Saints rediscover their magic against Saracens

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When Saints won at Saracens back in early December, a statement was made.

The black, green and gold backed up an impressive win against Harlequins at home a week earlier and showed that this season they could battle with and beat the best.

Those matches came at the start of a memorable 10-match winning streak, which also included superb successes against the likes of Exeter Chiefs and Munster.

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But that fine run, which was left on hold due to a pause in Gallagher Premiership action during the Guinness Six Nations, reached its conclusion is hugely disappointing fashion last Friday night.

Fraser Dingwall scored his first England try against Wales last month (photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)Fraser Dingwall scored his first England try against Wales last month (photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)
Fraser Dingwall scored his first England try against Wales last month (photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

Saints were comprehensively beaten by Bristol Bears, shipping seven tries in a 52-21 demolition at Ashton Gate.

And now they take on a team who dished out an evisceration of their own, with Saracens having humbled Harlequins in a 52-7 success at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium last Saturday.

The champions will be fancied to back that up by winning at cinch Stadium at Franklin's Gardens this week.

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And should they do so, they could knock Saints off the top of the table.

So it is essential that Phil Dowson's men rediscover that magic they had before the break as they bid to deliver a bounce-back performance on home soil.

"It (the winning streak) came from continuity and obviously momentum is a massive thing," said Saints and England centre Fraser Dingwall.

"All those games were based on us doing simple things, us doing what we do week in, week out on the training pitch on the pitch.

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"I don't have any doubts around the fact that the more time this group has together again, the more we start to get on a roll again, those same things will happen.

"It was just frustrating that the bit that let us down last Friday was the mental aspect where it seemed like we weren't at it with full intent and wanted it enough in a way.

"It's always going to be the case when you go somewhere away and they needed to win, but we've had very honest chats and, going forward, it's a strong reminder of how competitive the league is.

"Sometimes you have those big blow-outs against teams, but sometimes they are very easy to bounce back from."

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Dingwall was one of the stars of the show in the 18-12 win at StoneX Stadium in December.

And he said: "Really fond memories of that game earlier in the year.

"We got a lot of things right on that day and probably most important was around that energy battle.

"Mentally, there's definitely a test that comes with playing Saracens around how much you can stay in the game and not clock off.

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"There's lots of small moments that have a big influence on the game and that tends to give a lot of energy swings and mentality swings.

"Physically it's going to be a battle so it's really exciting.

"They're reigning champions, we want to go after them and obviously we've got aspirations to do things ourselves this season.

"To have a clash with them here on Friday night is very exciting."

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Dingwall made his return to Saints action from the bench last Friday, having not played for England since scoring in the win against Wales at Twickenham on February 10.

So did he feel a little underprepared due to such a long time without a game?

"I didn't feel too undercooked in terms of playing because I had played a couple of times earlier in the Six Nations," Dingwall said.

"Coming off the bench was probably the best blend for me in terms of getting a bit of game time but not necessarily being fully into it from the off.

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"Hopefully I get a bit more this weekend and it eases your transition back.

"The nature of it is that you go away for a decent chunk of time and you do come back and it does take time to redevelop those combinations again and clicking back into the way Saints want to play and putting that game on the pitch.

"There isn't much time to do it so we have to make the most of the time we've got on the pitch and every game is really important.

"Obviously you'd hope it won't take a long time because we've got longstanding foundations and I don't doubt that with boys spending more time together, it will easily come back.

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"Last Friday was a bit of a reflection of boys not being together for a while but we can't have any excuses around the fact we probably weren't at the races intent wise and emotionally. You could see that.

"The frustrating thing was that it looked like we weren't really there to put our game on them."

Dingwall made his England debut in the Six Nations opener against Italy in Rome and then scored a memorable try in that Wales match.

But he did not feature against Scotland, Ireland or France as England boss Steve Borthwick brought back Bath centre Ollie Lawrence.

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However, that didn't take the shine off things for Dingwall.

"It was all actually really positive," he said.

"All the feedback I had was really positive and it was about working out the combinations in the midfield.

"Obviously Ollie came back into the squad and he is probably the first-choice centre.

"All the feedback was that I was playing well, it was just there was someone that was coming in who they already had a preference on.

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"Steve was very honest with me, he was very straightforward and I can deal with that.

"I still thoroughly enjoyed the experience because I felt I could really be part of a group that was trying to change how they were playing and push towards something bigger."

Dingwall added: "I loved my time with England.

"Obviously I was heavily involved during the first few weeks, but even when I wasn't, I still thoroughly enjoyed the experience.

"As a group, we really started to evolve how we were trying to play and you saw that in those performances against Ireland and France.

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"I had a really good time and it was made even more special by my first cap and then the Wales game as well.

"It (the try against Wales) was a very cool moment and I'm not sure it has properly sunk in. It still feels like a distant memory and doesn't feel that real.

"I'm sure there will be a time I'll reflect on it, probably at the back end of the year, and it's something very cool for my family more than anyone at the moment because I feel I'm still a bit wrapped up in everything else going on in rugby. But for them, it was very real and they had a lot of fond memories of those two weekends so it's been really cool."

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