West plays down pressure ahead of Saints’ clash with Saracens

Dorian West (picture: Sharon Lucey)
Dorian West (picture: Sharon Lucey)

Dorian West has played down the pressure on Saints ahead of today’s Aviva Premiership play-off semi-final.

The champions topped the regular-season standings and will face Saracens, who finished fourth, at Franklin’s Gardens this afternoon.

Former Saints player Chris Ashton last week said his old team would be the ones feeling the heat as Sarries only snuck into the play-offs on the final day.

But West is adamant that there is no more pressure on his team than there is on Mark McCall’s men.

“Pressure is what comes at this stage of a competition,” said the Saints forwards coach.

“You put yourselves under pressure because you want to be successful, you want to play in a final, you want to win the final.

“All players are under pressure because if you get to a semi-final you want to win.”

Saints have won their past three league meetings with Saracens, including a dramatic extra-time success in last season’s Premiership final.

West knows Northampton have had the edge of late, but he insists they will have to be at their best to prevail in the final-four battle.

“We’ve had a quite a few encounters with them recently, it’s been very close but I think we’ve edged it slightly,” West said.

“It’s a game we’re going into knowing we can win if we play properly, but Saracens are a proper side. They’re a big squad of players and they’re an ambitious club so it won’t be easy.

“All the games we’ve played against them, they’re always very competitive. They pride themselves on certain things in their game, they’re a very good, confident team and they think they should be winning the big games.

“We just need to play an all-round game. They kick a lot, or they have in the past, and they put you under pressure to make mistakes. It’s down to us to make sure we limit the number of mistakes we make and we impose ourselves on them.”