Dowson demands a reaction as Saints take on Saracens

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Phil Dowson has called on Saints to produce a reaction when they host Saracens on tonight (kick-off 7.45pm).

The black, green and gold returned to Gallagher Premiership action last weekend and were brought back down to earth with a bump as they were beaten 52-21 at Ashton Gate.

It was a sluggish performance from Saints, who saw their 10-match unbeaten run go up in smoke.

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And they know they will have to be better in every department this week as they take on a Saracens side who thrashed Harlequins 52-7 at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium last Saturday.

Phil Dowson (photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)Phil Dowson (photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)
Phil Dowson (photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

"There's not one aspect of the game that was missing last Friday, it was more of a global malaise that we didn't really start, didn't really get going and didn't see our game on the pitch," Dowson said.

"Bristol put their game on the pitch and we couldn't deal with it.

"I was (surprised by the performance) because against Sale the week before we'd shown really good signs of building back into it, but we were just very flat last Friday.

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"The players have admitted there was a lack of intensity around all the things we were trying to do - and at this level, you're going to get found out.

"On the whole, I'm still frustrated but by no means defeated because we know that there's solutions sat in that room, we've got a really capable squad and we need to get back on the horse and make sure we see a reaction this week."

But Saints know they will their work cut out against the reigning Premiership champions.

"They're very good," Dowson said.

"It was Owen Farrell's 250th game last weekend, there was very close to a full house at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium and you'd expect no less with the quality and the history that club has.

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"They've been at the top end of the table for a very long period of time and you have to be doing the right things at the right time.

"We haven't quite got it right but all is not lost - we'll get it right this week."

Saints did win 18-12 at Saracens back in December.

"It feels like a long time ago but we take some confidence from that in that we had very good results all throughout that period," Dowson said.

"But all those results were tight, we very rarely blew sides away.

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"We know the fundamentals of our game, we know what our DNA looks like when we're running it properly so we need to make sure we get that and are aware of what makes our game tick as well as being aware of all the threats they have."

Saints now have a huge set of home games coming up, with the Saracens clash followed by confirmed dates against Munster and Leicester Tigers.

"The next one is the big one so we're not looking too far ahead," Dowson said.

"There's not that many games left so we're going to try to enjoy them and make sure we make the most of the opportunity we've created.

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"We're excited about being at home and I imagine it will be a pretty lively atmosphere.

"They're on the back of a big win, we're on the back of a fairly humbling loss so we need to see a reaction.

"We always need the home fans, always need to make it a really good atmosphere.

"We love playing here. We train here, we eat here, we have all our meetings here so this is well and truly our home.

"For the fans to come and pack it out has a huge impact on our performance."

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