Saints happy to have destiny in their own hands

Ben Foden and Saints have their fate in their own hands (picture: Kirsty Edmonds)
Ben Foden and Saints have their fate in their own hands (picture: Kirsty Edmonds)

Saints attack coach Alan Dickens is happy that his side will have their Champions Cup fate in their own hands at Franklin's Gardens on Saturday.

And he believes they must focus solely on winning, rather than margin of victory if they are to get what they need.

Saints must beat Harlequins by more than seven points if they are to leapfrog the men from The Stoop and finish sixth in the Aviva Premiership.

And Dickens said: "It's in our hands - that's one of the benefits of this weekend.

"If (eighth-placed) Gloucester had beaten Bath last Sunday, it would have been out of our control

"We're under no illusions that this weekend we need four points and hopefully we can put a performance in that gets us that so we can get Champions Cup rugby next year."

And when asked if the fact they must deprive Quins of a losing bonus point will alter Saints' thinking, Dickens said: "Four points is the target, and that's the deficit that's needed.

"We've got to win the game, first and foremost."

If Saints are to do that, they will have to defend better than they have during the past few months.

Jim Mallinder's men have conceded 30 or more points in six of their past eight matches.

And Dickens said: "Defence is an area we've talked a lot about in the past few weeks and it's an area we've worked on.

"It would be easy to say the defence wasn't there against Exeter, but we put ourselves under a lot of pressure.

"Come the last 15, 20 minutes, we hadn't looked after our big lads. We were asking them to make tackle after tackle after tackle and get up off the floor.

"Ultimately, the gaps opened because players are tired."