Saints ready for Franklin’s Gardens revenge missions

Saints were beaten by London Irish on Boxing Day (picture: Sharon Lucey)
Saints were beaten by London Irish on Boxing Day (picture: Sharon Lucey)
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For the next few Franklin’s Gardens games, Saints will take on the role of avengers as they look to set the record straight.

Because their next three home matches are against sides who inflicted late anguish on them earlier in the season.

This weekend, the players of London Irish are the ones with a target placed firmly on their heads.

Irish upset Saints on Boxing Day, with a late penalty try deciding a topsy-turvy encounter at the Madejski Stadium.

The following home game - on February 27 - will see Saints extend a warm welcome to Worcester Warriors, who stunned last season’s Aviva Premiership table-toppers with a last-kick win at Sixways in the league curtain-raiser.

And the final team who Saints will want to feel their wrath are Sale Sharks, who head to the Gardens on March 12 having held off a late surge to beat Jim Mallinder’s men at the AJ Bell Stadium back in November.

There are plenty of wrongs to be righted.

“Definitely,” Saints boss Mallinder said.

“You look at those games we lost away and they were tight.

“At Worcester, we lost the ball and they got the drop goal.

“At Sale, we were attacking their line late on and we had the ball taken from us.

“But they are all little bits and what you’ve got to look at is the whole game, and we needed to improve our performances.

“I think we will need to play better than we did against them in those away games.”

And after Saints turned the tables to inflict some late heartache of their own on Harlequins last weekend, they will be in buoyant mood going into this weekend’s game.

Saints are well aware that they owe the Gardens faithful a good performance or two after a stuttering start to the season on home soil.

Mallinder’s men were booed off after their 24-11 defeat to Wasps a couple of weeks ago and they have only scored seven tries at home this season.

The Wasps woe aside, though, they have been defensively sound, conceding just one try before Dai Young’s men registered three on that sobering Friday night.

And Saints are now desperate to impress at the other end of the pitch to get the paying public off their seats in the weeks and months to come.

“You always want to play well, particularly at home,” Mallinder said.

“Clearly, in the Wasps game we didn’t play well, and what we want to do is give the crowd something to get behind.

“We want to put in a performance that they’re proud to see.

“That doesn’t mean you’ve got to chuck the ball from everywhere and be ridiculous.

“London Irish can put you under pressure so we’ve got to be careful in the way we play.”