Wood says Saints have to keep Leinster on the back foot

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Tom Wood says Saints must ensure Leinster remain firmly on the back foot in Saturday’s huge Heineken Cup clash at Franklin’s Gardens (KO 6pm).

Wood doesn’t want the Irish side to be given any time to breathe as Saints look to stifle the RaboDirect PRO12 team’s star-studded backline.

RALLYING CALL - Saints flanker Tom Wood (Picture: Linda Dawson)

RALLYING CALL - Saints flanker Tom Wood (Picture: Linda Dawson)

It is a key clash for Northampton as they aim to keep themselves in contention in Pool 1, which Leinster currently lead.

Matt O’Connor’s men have put in powerful displays against Ospreys and Castres so far, claiming two wins from two.

And Wood knows what Saints, who sit three points adrift in second, will have to do if they are not to be added to that list of victims on Saturday night.

“You look through their pack and some of their ball carrying, the likes of Cian Healy, Sean O’Brien, Jamie Heaslip, is very strong,” said the England flanker.

“We’ll have to make sure they’re not on the front foot.

“If we collectively maul well, scrummage well and don’t give them a chance to launch their starter plays off front foot ball that will be really positive for us and give us a real chance.

“The last thing we want is to be back-pedalling because you’re likely to come off second best.”

Leinster have won the Heineken Cup in three of the past five years, including in 2011, when they beat Saints in the final.

They have established themselves as one of the benchmark teams in European rugby and Wood has nothing but praise for them.

“They don’t come much bigger in terms of a challenge than Leinster,” he said.

“They’ve got international experience throughout their team, Lions experience.

“They’re an established team and they’ve been together for a long time.

“The spine of their team is really strong, they’ve got talismen throughout and we’ll have to be at our best if we want to get a result this week.

“They’ve got a great track record in Europe and we’re going to have to make sure they’re on the back foot so we can contain some of their threats and get our game out there.”