Dowson and Dickson in line for starts at Ulster

FIRST TEAM RECALL? - Phil Dowson was impressive after coming on as a replacement against Ulster on Friday night (Picture: Linda Dawson)
FIRST TEAM RECALL? - Phil Dowson was impressive after coming on as a replacement against Ulster on Friday night (Picture: Linda Dawson)

Saints boss Jim Mallinder could hand starts to Phil Dowson and Lee Dickson against Ulster on Saturday - after admitting the duo made a positive impact from the bench last week.

The performances of scrum-half Dickson and back row forward Dowson provided a glimmer of light amidst a poor Northampton showing.

They suffered a 25-6 defeat at the hands of the Irish side, who are now eight points ahead of Saints in pool four ahead of the reverse fixture in Belfast on Saturday night.

It will be a huge test of character for Mallinder’s men and the director of rugby could look to freshen things up.

Dickson and Dowson appear to be the obvious candidates for starting spots and Mallinder said: “They brought a little bit of tempo to the game.

“We will take a few positives in terms of coming back in the second half but overall it was a bad night, they were the better team and they deserved to win.

And he added: “We’ll look at all the (selection) options and decide that this week.”

Mallinder felt the pressure Ulster exerted on Saints proved to be the key to victory last Friday.

And he couldn’t hide his disappointment at the performance of his side.

“You look out there and see simple passes going down and you wonder why. But it is a result of them putting pressure on you,” said Mallinder.

“It’s very disappointing that’s happened.”