Time's flying as Saints get set for key encounter against Harlequins

Saints boss Phil Dowson (photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)Saints boss Phil Dowson (photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)
Saints boss Phil Dowson (photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)
Phil Dowson says it’s ‘mad’ that Saints are already a third of the way through their Gallagher Premiership season.

And the director of rugby knows tonight’s home clash with Harlequins is ‘massive’ for his side.

Saints suffered their third league loss in six games last weekend, going down 26-17 at local rivals Leicester Tigers.

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That has left Dowson’s men sixth in the Premiership standings, three points and one place behind Quins.

And with just 18 games in total to be played in the league during this campaign, the margin for error decreases each week.

"It's mad, isn't it?,” said Dowson when it was put to him that a third of the season has now elapsed.

“There's obviously fewer teams and the games come thick and fast so it's flying by!

"It (this week’s game) is massive.

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“It's a short turnaround again after a very disappointing result and performance against Leicester so we need to make sure we get over that, take that on the chin, wear those bruises and put it right this week.”

Like Saints, Quins suffered disappointment on derby-day weekend as they were beaten 38-10 by Saracens at the Twickenham Stoop.

And Dowson said: “Clearly they're another side who will be very disappointed with how last weekend went.

“Saracens were on top of them and they'll be wanting to show what they're about so they'll want to come and produce a reaction.

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“It's two sides who have been stung, who will want to make a point.

“They're clearly a very dangerous side, jam-packed with quality that we know from the international stage and from various Premiership experiences.

“They are very talented, a good side to watch in how they want to play the game, not only with Danny Care and Marcus Smith at nine and 10 but also with (Andre) Esterhuizen, (Alex) Dombrandt and Dino Lamb carrying, and Will Evans over the ball and in defence is an absolute menace.

“It's a really good challenge for us and a good one to test our mettle after what happened to us last week.”

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So what can Saints learn from Saracens and how they handled Harlequins?

“Saracens were ultra-efficient in the opposition 22,” Dowson said.

“Their maul was very powerful and if they didn't score from the maul, they were very good at converting opportunities.

“Once you get ahead and you can force a side to play and overplay to chase the game, then they suffocate them.

“Their ability to defend a very dangerous side was very impressive from a Saracens point of view, and their ability to exert pressure and score quickly was a good marker of a quality team.”