Saints players have no interest in looking at league table after losses

Had Saints won at Leicester Tigers a couple of weeks ago, they would have moved into fourth in the Gallagher Premiership table.

By Tom Vickers
Friday, 25th February 2022, 7:00 am

Now though, such is the congested nature of the standings, they will go into Sunday's clash with Exeter Chiefs sitting ninth.

The past two weeks have shown just what a cut-throat business Premiership rugby is this season.

And Saints know that if they fail to beat Exeter at cinch Stadium at Franklin's Gardens, they could start to reach the point where defeats become fatal.

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Alex Mitchell scored against Sale last weekend

That is because, with so many teams in the mix for a play-off place, every slip feels so costly.

And it hurt Saints so badly last Saturday as not only did they suffer an agonising defeat, their misery was amplified by the fact is came against one of their top-four rivals.

Had George Furbank's last-gasp penalty bisected the posts, Saints would be sitting fifth.

As it is, that is the position occupied by this weekend's opponents.

And scrum-half Alex Mitchell, who scored in the 22-21 loss to Sale Sharks last Saturday, probably won't be aware of that because he says the squad are far from eager to look at the league table after losses.

"When we're winning games, we look at it, but when we're losing we don't," Mitchell said.

"Obviously it's so tight, and with two losses you slip down.

"But we try not to think about that too much because we know if we get two wins in the next two weeks, we'll go straight back up.

"We're focusing on ourselves and focusing on getting some results.

"We've got Exeter and then Gloucester in the next two weeks and they're even more important after being on the wrong side of the result in the past two weeks.

"We know we're a good side against Exeter, we've got a lot of results against them.

"Two years ago, we beat them at home and it was an awesome atmosphere so hopefully it will be something similar on Sunday."

Mitchell finished off a fine team try to put Saints ahead at 21-15 up against Sale last Saturday, but the Sharks bounced back as Saints dropped a high ball, allowing Rohan Janse van Rensburg to score.

AJ MacGinty added what proved to be the match-winning conversion, but Saints had plenty of chances to win the game during the final 20 minutes, including that tricky Furbank penalty after the clock had hit 80.

"A lot of lads were frustrated this week because we felt like we dominated the game," Mitchell said.

"The stats were something like 70 per cent territory and 60 per cent possession in our favour, but we just didn't get many rewards for it.

"We had more entries into the 22 and just basically didn't convert.

"At the other end, we were just too easy to score against. They got two easy tries from two easy kicks.

"It was a very frustrating one because we felt we deserved the win, but that's rugby and that's sport.

"We were on the wrong end of the result last weekend but hopefully that changes in the next couple of weeks and it starts going our way."

Mitchell has been a mainstay of the Saints team this season, keeping the likes of Tom James and Frank Lomani out of the team.

The talented No.9 even completed the full 80 minutes last weekend, such is his importance to how his team plays.

"My stats are good and my consistency is getting there," said Mitchell, who has scored eight tries in 17 appearances this season.

"I feel like I'm improving in every part of my game, but there's always things to work on.

"I'm not quite there yet but pretty happy with the consistency.

"I've got to get the team ticking and if I can do that, it will help me so that's something I'm working on.

"TJ and Frank are pushing me and they're pulling up trees in training.

"But I'm getting good opportunities on the pitch at the moment so sometimes it's tough for them to put their hand up and compete.

"They're good players and hopefully they'll compete again next year."