Dowson recognises significance of Premiership Rugby Cup run for Saints

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With rugby union facing such financial challenges, it is very much a case of the more games the better for Saints.

And with that in mind, they will be desperate to make sure they not only progress past the pool stages of the Premiership Rugby Cup this season but that they secure a home semi-final in the competition.

It would give the black, green and gold vital extra revenue should they stage a final-four clash at cinch Stadium at Franklin’s Gardens.

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And ahead of Sunday’s televised cup opener at ambitious Championship side Ealing Trailfinders, Saints boss Phil Dowson said: “It's huge for financial revenue.

Saints go to Ealing Trailfinders on Sunday (picture: Ketan Shah)Saints go to Ealing Trailfinders on Sunday (picture: Ketan Shah)
Saints go to Ealing Trailfinders on Sunday (picture: Ketan Shah)

"From my point of view in terms of the importance of that competition, it's a huge opportunity for players to represent the club, to wear a Saints shirt, to show what they've been training, to show what they've been working on as an individual and put it in a game and do it under pressure.

"They have to do it all over the country, whether that's at Ealing, at Bristol or whatever - the point is to show us and earn that trust to make sure they put their name down for when the Premiership starts.”

Dowson will have to strike a balance between winning cup matches and making sure his squad is in the best position possible for their Gallagher Premiership curtain-raiser at Sale Sharks on October 15.

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"Senior players will very much will be drip-fed into the team," he said.

"Like I've said before, we've got 17 games on the bounce in Europe and the Premiership so we want to manage who we have playing.

"The PRC is a great opportunity for these guys to play week in, week out for the Saints and show what they're capable of.

"Clearly we haven't got the two pre-season results we wanted (Saints lost to Bedford Blues and the Barbarians), but there's definite signs of what we've been looking for from a coaching point of view and it's very positive.”

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And now Dowson can't wait to get going with the competitive action.

"I've been excited from the word go because I love the game and I love this group of lads,” he said. “I'm really excited about seeing us progress and come under a different challenge against Ealing.”