Saints told to be 'watertight' in Timisoara clash

Saints forwards coach Phil Dowson (picture: Kirsty Edmonds)
Saints forwards coach Phil Dowson (picture: Kirsty Edmonds)

Forwards coach Phil Dowson has told Saints they must be 'watertight' when Timisoara Saracens come calling at Franklin's Gardens tonight (kick-off 8pm).

The black, green and gold will be huge favourites for the final Challenge Cup pool match, with Timisoara having suffered heavy defeats in all of their games so far.

Saints have not had a chance to face them as their game in Romania was cancelled due to heavy snow in December.

But they will expect to get the full five points this week, which would secure an away quarter-final.

"They have got some genuine threats in terms of scrum and maul," said Dowson when asked about Timisoara.

"They've got some big ball carriers, particularly at 12, but this weekend is about us. It's about how we can execute and put our game plan on the pitch.

"We've got to make sure we give ourselves the best chance possible to get to the quarter-finals.

"What you do is take the good parts from Clermont and the other bits that you need to clean up and you treat this like any other game.

"We need to make sure we understand what Timisoara will bring to the table and make sure we are watertight and really robust."

Saints had endured some difficult days up front in games against the likes of Exeter and Wasps, but they stood tall against Clermont Auvergne at Stade Marcel Michelin last weekend.

Dowson's men matched the Top 14 table-toppers in the scrum and lineout on their way to an entertaining 48-40 defeat.

When asked how he feels the forwards have performed this season, Dowson said: "Not too bad. We're sort of steady.

"Both the scrum and the lineout have issues in particular games. They have been good games and bad games in those areas. Likewise restart reception.

"But, to a man, we've got a group of forwards who are desperate to work and for success.

"Everyone is happy to take feedback, grow and learn.

"If there are wobbles and mistakes on the way, the attitude is all important and I'm delighted with that so far.

"Sometimes it's the opposition, sometimes it's experience, sometimes it's human error, sometimes it's my fault in terms of the plan.

"There are a lot of things that can go wrong and the whole point of professional sport is to challenge yourself.

"It is a challenge every week. One week you might have a really good defensive lineout against Bath, another week you might have a side who stays down and makes things a little bit easier.

"We've got to adapt and evolve and I've got a group of lads who are all keen to improve and make sure we're on the right track, which we are at the moment."