Dowson: Saints in good shape ahead of Chiefs clash
Phil Dowson feels pre-season has put Saints on the right path ahead of the big Aviva Premiership kick-off on Saturday.
Jim Mallinder’s men take on Exeter Chiefs in the league curtain-raiser at Franklin’s Gardens.
They will go into that game buoyed by a friendly campaign which has seen them win all four of their games, against Bedford, Moseley, Edinburgh and Leinster.
Although little can be read into results in non-competitive matches, there is no doubt the pre-season tests have fostered a real belief among the Saints squad.
And Dowson believes the momentum gained, especially from Friday’s win at Leinster, can stand his side in good stead for the tricky tests that lie ahead.
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“It was a good test in Dublin,” said the experienced flanker. “Obviously Leinster are a class outfit.
“They were missing a few of their internationals but it’s still a real tough test for us and I think we just about came through.
“Conditions made it a little bit scrappy and there’s lots of things we need to work on, but the key is getting into winning ways, especially away from home.”
And he added: “Pre-season has been really good this year. I have to pay massive credit to the strength and conditioning staff. They’ve put a package together this year totally different to others previous.
“We’ve worked equally as hard but it’s just been really, really spot on and I think the lads have responded to that.
“I think we showed decent fitness last Friday, looked big and strong and most importantly looking fresh as well.”