Saints have got their belief back ahead of Bristol clash

Dorian West

Dorian West

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From hopeless to hopeful - Saints and Bristol have been on quite a journey during the past month.

Both sides were staring down the barrel of despair in December as their ambitions for the season appeared to be slipping from their grasp.

But the new year period has provided new reasons to be positive.

Saints have bounced back from four successive defeats to see off Sale Sharks and Gloucester during the past two weeks and have stepped back into the Aviva Premiership top six.

Meanwhile, Bristol are on a four-match winning streak, having backed up two Challenge Cup wins against Pau with successes against Worcester Warriors and Sale.

Transformations in fortune are well and truly under way at Franklin’s Gardens and Ashton Gate.

And this Saturday, the two sides clash in Northampton with a common aim: keep the momentum going.

“We have generated a bit of confidence over the past few weeks,” said Saints forwards coach Dorian West.

“We’re still not where we should be. We’re in sixth position but we have seen improvements.

“The way we’ve been playing has improved and I think there is that confidence that’s improved, which is a massive part of it.

“We need to keep working hard and we need to step up a notch against a Bristol side who have also improved as the season has gone on.”

Saints cruised past Bristol at Ashton Gate in September, scoring three tries before the break and one towards the end in a 32-10 Premiership success.

But West said: “They are miles more competitive in the set piece now.

“We mauled them quite a bit when we played down there at Ashton Gate, but we’ve looked at how they’re defending mauls these days and they’re not giving sides the opportunity to do that.

“We’ll be working hard on our game to make sure we can keep that winning run and keep confidence building.”