Dowson demands Sandy Park repeat from Saints

Saints flanker Phil Dowson says Exeter’s Sandy Park is one of the most pleasurable places to win at.

And he is hoping his side can do what they did last April, and beat the Chiefs on their own turf, on Saturday.

Saints head to the west country hoping to become only the second team to win at Exeter this season.

Only Heineken Cup favourites and French Top 14 big-hitters Clermont Auvergne have conquered Sandy Park during this campaign, with the likes of Harlequins and Saracens being beaten there.

Consequently, the odds are against Saints, who won 18-15 at the ground last April to help book a place in the Premiership play-off semi-finals.

And Dowson said: “They’ve got a great record at home and they’re very proud of it.

“You’ve seen their rise to prominence, having been promoted a couple of years ago and it’s been built on the fact their home record is so good, not dissimilar to Northampton.

“We went down there two seasons ago and took a bit of a hammering.

“We learnt from that and last year we went there in a must-win game to get into the top four and we pulled a great result out.

“These are places you want to play. Sandy Park is up there with places where there is a good crowd and a tough place to go to play.

“That means if you do get a win it makes it all the more pleasurable.”

Saints slipped to sixth in the Premiership standings following their 17-16 defeat to Saracens last weekend, while Exeter sit a place below in seventh.

But Dowson says there is plenty of time for his team to turn things around, as they remain just two points adrift of a top four spot.

“The season’s long and there’s going to be periods of time where you win games,” said the England forward.

“At the start of the season, we were good and there are going to be times when you’re not quite as successful.

“The bounce of the ball goes the other way and the ball comes off the crossbar in the last kick of the game last weekend.

“But there are going to be other times that goes our way, through luck or perseverance, and we’ve got to make sure we’re in those situations.

“We can pack our bags and go home, or we can get back up and run at Exeter and see what happens down there.”