Phil Dowson has hailed the ‘unbelievable’ Saints fans for the reception he received before his 200th Premiership appearance.
The flanker was given a warm round of applause by the Franklin’s Gardens faithful as he prepared to face the Gloucester kick-off on Saturday.
Though he didn’t react at the time, the 32-year-old admits it was a special moment as his achievement was recognised.
And Dowson was delighted to be able to celebrate with five points as he skippered Saints to a 39-13 triumph against the Cherry and Whites.
“I was busy worrying about the kick-off (so didn’t react to the applause), but the fans have been unbelievable,” he said.
“I’ve had lots of messages on Twitter and lots from players I’ve played with throughout the years so it does mean a huge amount to have people think of you.
“I didn’t think about it (the 200-game milestone) until I got to the 197, 198-mark and then I was thinking, ‘I don’t want a career-ending injury before I get to that 200’.
“I got to that 199 at Newcastle, my old team, and Tom May reminded me he got his 200 playing for Northampton against Newcastle, so he’s always topping me.
“I feel good and I’m still enjoying my rugby.”
Dowson and Co didn’t have it all their own way as they attempted to secure their 12th successive win in all competitions.
Gloucester were level at 13-13 15 minutes into the second half, but Saints pulled away with a dazzling late show to secure the spoils.
And Dowson said: “We knew we had to work hard. They’ve been in good form the past couple of weeks so we knew we had to work hard.
“We were sloppy in the first half, made a few line breaks and didn’t manage to capitalise, giving the ball away and an interception away, and then you’re on the back foot a little bit.
“But we regrouped and we know these good sides take 70 minutes to wear down.
“We brought the young lads off the bench, they added the extra impetus and we got over the line.”