Dowson admits Saints’ discipline has to improve at Worcester

LET'S GET STREETWISE - Phil Dowson says Saints have to improve their discipline at Worcester (Picture: Linda Dawson)
LET'S GET STREETWISE - Phil Dowson says Saints have to improve their discipline at Worcester (Picture: Linda Dawson)

Phil Dowson has urged Saints to be more streetwise when they take on Worcester Warriors on Saturday.

Northampton suffered a 27-11 defeat at the hands of Gloucester last weekend, being made to pay for having two players – GJ van Velze and Samu Manoa – sin-binned.

Rob Cook kicked five penalties for the Cherry and Whites to put the seal on a success that saw Saints slip down to sixth in the Premiership standings.

And Dowson, who scored his fifth try of the season in the game, wants his side to eradicate the errors that cost them so dearly when they go to Sixways this weekend.

“The biggest issue for me is discipline,” said the England Saxons back row forward. “Rob Cook kicked very well and we can’t afford to give people 15 points for free.

“It’s very difficult and it’s not something you can pinpoint or really train on. It’s really a mental thing.

“It’s about cerebral preparation, where you need to make good decisions around the ball.

“We know that rugby’s a complicated game and the referee’s going to make some decisions and you’ve just got to make it as simple as possible for him because there’s so much going on in the game and he’s only looking at one aspect.

“The discipline is a side effect of us being frustrated and trying things that maybe aren’t on and going for balls at the breakdown when we don’t need to.

“We’re taking chances that aren’t paying off and it’s a case of making better decisions. There are some guys in the team now who are getting back into the style of refereeing in the Premiership.

“You can sometimes make decisions when you’re under pressure in a physical environment that aren’t always the best ones. It’s just tempering that enthusiasm with a bit of streetwise.”

Dowson knows Worcester will pose a big threat on their own turf, with their home form the key reason they have avoided a relegation battle to date.

But he believes Saints can do the business, as long as they stay sharp in defence.

“Worcester are a good side,” he said. “They’ve got a lot of experience and lots of guys who’ve played Premiership and internationals.

“They’ve got a big, solid, dominant pack so that will provide ball for people like (Paul) Hodgson at nine and (Andy) Goode at 10, who’ve been around the block and can put you in difficult areas.

“They’re a very strong side at home. This year they’ve had some great results at Sixways. We were a little bit naïve last week and gave away two tries that cost us.

“Other than that, defensively we looked sharp so we need to do that again.”