Dowson explains why Saints replaced props against Exeter

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Phil Dowson has explained why Saints opted to replace props Manny Iyogun and Ehren Painter with 30 minutes to go against Exeter Chiefs last Sunday.

Iyogun and Painter were enjoying hugely productive games, and they had just helped Saints to smash Exeter at a scrum, leading to a try for Juarno Augustus.

But the young front row duo were soon heading off the field, to be replaced by the more experienced Alex Waller and Paul Hill.

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Saints were 28-17 up at the time but an Alex Mitchell yellow card opened the door for Exeter, who snatched a dramatic 34-31 win late on at cinch Stadium at Franklin's Gardens.

Some questioned why Iyogun and Painter, who have now started the past two matches,, did not stay on for longer.

But forwards coach Dowson said: "The scrum had been going really well but the game is multi-faceted and the scrum is not the only element of it

"Therefore when those players start to slow down, the coaches have to make a decision - and it's a tough one - to decide at what point they become a liability in the defensive line.

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"We know we can add some impetus with a 300-cap Saint in Alex Waller and Paul Hill, who is an England international who wants to get back into that mix.

Phil DowsonPhil Dowson
Phil Dowson

"It's not as though the guys we've got on the bench can't play and there was only one scrum, which was a free-kick, that went against us after that.

"I can see how people would question that (decision to take Iyogun and Painter off) but I don't think it's really an issue when you've got those guys coming off the bench."

Iyogun and Painter are certainly showing they can be called upon to produce now though, despite only being 21 and 23 respectively.

And Dowson said: "They're both going very well.

"You don't see many scrums get turned over in that fashion.

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"(Saints scrum guru and assistant coach) Matt Ferguson was beaming with pride.

"The point was made that they've been managed with small steps giving them the chance to start games, and both Manny and Ehren have been excellent.

"They will continue to improve as well."

On the defeat to Exeter, Dowson said: "It was hugely disappointing and frustrating because 20 minutes to go you're 11 points up and in this league, which is very tight, people can leapfrog each other very quickly and they're games you have to win.

"We didn't manage to get over the line and it was hugely frustrating because for a lot of the game we did some really good things, and particularly at the start of the second half, we were excellent.

"We didn't manage to control that last 20 minutes."

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So what is behind Saints' failure to finish games off in recent weeks?

"I don't know - if it was easy to nail down, we'd change it very quickly," Dowson said.

"At Leicester we weren't at the races and that was a big wake-up call, but we should have won the past two games because we felt we'd done enough to win.

"Both of those games were at home and as frustrating as it is, we don't need to change everything.

"We have to change the things we can change and make sure they're the things that have the most impact."