Frustrated Saints eager to prove a point against Sale

Jamie Gibson grabbed a few lineouts and a try at Worcester last weekend (picture: Sharon Lucey)
Jamie Gibson grabbed a few lineouts and a try at Worcester last weekend (picture: Sharon Lucey)

Jamie Gibson says there is a lot of frustration among the Saints squad amid a disappointing sequence of results.

Jim Mallinder's men have lost five of their past six matches in all competitions, conceding four or more tries in each of those defeats.

Their most recent reverse came at Sixways last Saturday, where Worcester Warriors won 30-15 to secure their first Aviva Premiership victory of the season - at the eighth attempt.

Saints are now bidding to get their season back on track when they travel to Sale Sharks for Saturday evening's encounter at the AJ Bell Stadium.

And flanker Gibson, who scored his team's second try at Worcester last weekend, said: "There's definitely a lot of frustration.

"Training has been tough, there's a lot of people looking to prove a point and we know there's an opportunity in the next couple of weeks before the (international) boys come back to show where we want to be in this league.

"It's been a frustrating time because we bounced back after our first defeat against Sarries and we showed what we could do for those four games we won, which were important.

"We had a couple of big losses in the Champions Cup and other competitions, but we've got a chance to put it right in the next couple of weeks.

"We're still very much in the mix, nothing gets won until March, April, May so we've got to react and show what we can do."

On the defeat at Worcester, Gibson said: "It was frustrating, disappointing.

"Worcester's position in the league doesn't really do them justice because they had players returning from injury, they've got dangerous players and a few old boys from here who wanted to prove a point.

"But we didn't make them work hard for their tries. They scored four but they were four pretty simple tries.

"We didn't deserve to win the game but even though we were poor, we had opportunities.

"We've had a lot of work to do and we've got to improve up at Sale this weekend."

So just how can Saints make sure they secure the improvement they seek?

"It's a mixture of lots of little things," Gibson said.

"Individually, people have to stand up and you're a rugby player for a reason - physicality is the name of the game.

"Some boys have let themselves down at times, everybody has let themselves down and very few players have gone 80 minutes and not put a foot wrong in defence.

"As a collective, we have to make sure we work as a unit and we don't let the pressure off.

"Defence is about keeping the pressure on, making the opposition work for everything they get.

"Sale is not an easy place to go to, they're very strong at home, but it's a chance for us to put things right."

Saints weren't able to properly function in attack or defence at Worcester last weekend.

And Gibson said: "This season's been almost the complete opposite from how last year started.

"Last year, you looked at us and we were very difficult to score against, but we were struggling to score points at times.

"This year has been the total opposite.

"Worcester is probably our worst attacking performance and we still scored 15 points, which should be enough to be tight in every game.

"We know that if we can take the pressure off ourselves by improving our defence, it will make our attack even stronger and that's the big focus this week.

"We've got to make sure we're up there and make teams work for everything they get."

Saints won at Sale back in March, securing a bonus-point 32-12 success.

They will face a Sharks side who will not be steered by boss Steve Diamond on matchday as he is serving a six-week stadium ban.

And Gibson said: "They're an interesting team because you look at their home team over the past couple of years and I wouldn't be surprised if they were the best in the league.

"But this season, they've struggled at the start.

"They've got a dangerous back three, quality at nine and 10 and forwards who can cause problems for everybody.

"It will be interesting to see how they respond with Steve Diamond not being in the stadium. It can galvanise a side.

"They've had some tough losses in the past few weeks so they will be just as eager as us to put a performance in and turn their season around.

"We're looking forward to it."