Dowson believes Saints youngsters will benefit from Ealing battle

Phil Dowson says the experience Saints' youngsters gained from facing a strong Ealing Trailfinders side will be 'very positive'.
Henry Pollock started against Ealing (photo by Peter Nicholls/Getty Images)Henry Pollock started against Ealing (photo by Peter Nicholls/Getty Images)
Henry Pollock started against Ealing (photo by Peter Nicholls/Getty Images)

Dowson once again selected a blend of youth and experience as his side started their Premiership Rugby Cup campaign with a 48-22 defeat at Vallis Way.

Fourteen players were absent due to injury and international call-ups, while the majority of the first team continue to be managed and have not yet got stuck into game action.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Saints' largely youthful team lost to Bedford Blues and the Barbarians during pre-season before shipping eight tries against ambitious Championship side Ealing in the cup opener on Sunday afternoon.

And Dowson said: "We knew it was a strong Ealing side and I don't think we really showed what we're capable of in the first half.

"But I thought second half we came out and showed way more of what we're about.

"Unfortunately we still weren't good enough in certain areas but for a young group to experience that level is very positive.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

"There's clearly some individuals who stood out and there's clearly some elements of our game that also stood out for the wrong reasons.

"Some of these guys were playing Under-18s rugby last year and this is their third game in men's rugby in a pretty intense competition.

"You can't be hesitant so we've always got to have it at the forefront of our mind that the physical battle is the key one and we need to make sure we're up for that."

When asked if anyone stood out for him against Ealing, Dowson said: "Lots of different individuals.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

"I probably need to have another good look at the game but there's loads guys who are trying their hardest and we love their attitude.

"The most important thing is that they're going flat out for the club and for the shirt - and that's exactly what they did do.

"When it comes to technical elements, there's obviously guys with lots to learn.

"And from an emotional standpoint, we've got to start games a bit better and a bit more physical."

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Ealing selected the likes of Jordy Reid and Nathan Earle, seasoned Premiership performers.

And Dowson was impressed by the home side, who added Tom Collins, who is currently injured, to their squad during the summer.

"They're obviously a very ambitious club and they're keen to push on," Dowson said.

"They've got loads of quality players who have played loads of top level games so it's a very good setup."

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Saints now look forward to hosting another Championship side, Cambridge, in a cup clash on Saturday.

And when asked whether the team selection will be similar to the Ealing match and the pre-season fixtures, Dowson said: "Again it depends a lot on injuries and bits and pieces.

"The PRC has always been a development tournament but at the same time, we want to make sure we're ready to go for the Premiership.

"Those minutes will be managed accordingly."