Harrison’s performance a ‘big positive’ despite Zebre defeat

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DORIAN WEST believes the performance of Teimana Harrison was one of the big positives of Saints’ pre-season friendly defeat to Zebre.

Harrison, who has recently returned from a shoulder injury, played the full 80 minutes as Northampton conceded two late tries to lose 30-28 at Millau.

Tries from Martin Roberts, Jamie Elliott, Luther Burrell and Scott Armstrong had looked set to give Saints victory as they went 10 points up in the second half.

But late scores from Giovanbattista Venditti and Samuele Pace as well as a successful conversion from Luciano Orquera gave the Italian side victory in steamy conditions.

With results unimportant during pre-season, West was eager to take the positives and he hailed the showings of the squad’s younger players, especially 19-year-old Harrison.

“It’s important the young players get the experience but it’s also important some of our senior players aren’t playing too much too soon,” said West.

“It’s a chance to have a look at the squad and see where we’re at and I think we saw a lot from a lot of the young lads.

“Teimana Harrison did 80 minutes and that was really good for him coming back from injury and we got the amount of game time in the lads we wanted.”

The clash was the sort of test forwards coach West and director of rugby Jim Mallinder will have wanted for their side.

Saints were put under pressure in the heat but West didn’t feel their fitness wavered, instead feeling a few mistakes cost them a friendly victory.

“We’ve had a good week,” he said. “We trained really hard during the past few days and it’s always good to get the first game under your belt.

“It’s a chance to do some live contact, 40 minutes for most of the players and I thought we did some good things. There’s obviously things to work on but it was a really useful exercise.

“I thought we were a fitter team than them and when we got into our stride we caused them a lot of trouble.

“We made a few mistakes towards the end and they came back into the game so there’s a lot there we can be positive about and we’ll keep working hard in the next few days to make sure we’re right for next week against Leinster.”