Saints forward Paul Doran-Jones believes his side’s good fortunes at the start of this year’s Aviva Premiership season are due in part to the memory of last term’s poor beginning.
At the same stage last season Jim Mallinder’s troops had just one win to their name but, after a 24-6 victory over London Wasps last weekend, the Saints are sitting top of the Aviva Premiership with five wins from five.
And reflecting on the performance 27-year-old Doran-Jones insists Northampton are edging ever closer to producing the high standard that they are capable of but have only shown in patches so far.
And, looking to extend their best ever league start against London Irish on Saturday, Doran-Jones revealed the Saints are working just as hard as 12 months ago but are now getting the luck they deserve.
“We are at the different end of the spectrum to last year,” said Doran-Jones. “We are obviously undefeated so far but we know how hard we were working this time last year when things weren’t going quite as well and it came down to the bounce of the ball.
“We are not going to get carried away with being unbeaten because we know it can change but we want to maintain it.
“The weekend was a more complete performance. It’s great to beat a team like Wasps – we left a few opportunities out on the field but defensively we were good.
“They have dangerous players like Christian Wade and Tom Varndell so it is always pleasing to shut them out.
“At times in games before we played very well but at others we lacked composure so it was great to reapply our principles and keep a solid defence.
“It isn’t going to be perfect but it was good to come in on Monday and build on another win. We know our success is a by-product of what we are doing in the week so we will be looking to keep it up against London Irish.”
Despite being one of the most feared teams in the Premiership for some time now, occupying top spot is somewhat of a rarity for Doran-Jones and co.
But one man who knows the intricacies of Premiership rugby more than anyone is perhaps former Saracens and Bath lock Danny Grewcock, having appeared in the competition every season 1997 before retiring in 2011.
And he believes that this season is set to be the closest yet, but can’t see a scenario where Mallinder’s troops don’t feature in the final say.
“We seem to say it every year but from the Premiership down rugby in this country is getting tougher and tougher, all the way down to the National Leagues,” said SSE ambassador Grewcock.
“This season is no different and when you consider that Saracens won the league the season before and then Harlequins won it last year then you see that different clubs are challenging all the time.
“This season has started really strongly and there are a number of clubs that you would say will be up their fighting for the top four come the end of the season.
“You have to say that as defending champions Harlequins are favourites but they are probably twice the amount of teams than semi-final spots available and I think it will be a very close run thing.”
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