Dowson: Saints showed evolution of the club in last-16 win against Munster

Phil Dowson (photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)Phil Dowson (photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)
Phil Dowson (photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)
Phil Dowson believes Saints showed their evolution in the excellent 24-14 win against Munster on Sunday afternoon.

The black, green and gold had gone 14-7 down during the first period, but Munster were not allowed to score another point as Saints secured a 24-14 success that sets up a home quarter-final against Vodacom Bulls next weekend.

Saints were under huge amounts of pressure during the first half against Munster, but the home side stuck with it and stuck in the game.

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Eventually they got their rewards as George Hendy came off the bench to score two eye-catching tries.

And Dowson said: "We're really pleased because we know what Munster can bring to the table and we saw that in the first half.

"I thought we looked a little bit nervous because it's the first time we've had knockout rugby since Saracens away in the Premiership play-offs last season and there's obviously been a lot of water under the bridge since that.

"In the second half we looked a lot more like ourselves and got a lot more of our game on the park.

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"When you think of the side that Munster has - they've got 12, 13 internationals in that group and they're talking about being the underdogs – we were under no illusions as to what they were going to come after and we knew we were going to have to be at the top of our game.

"The first half was nip and tuck but in the second half we said we needed to be a little bit more relaxed in our system, not give quite as many penalties away and not make so many uncharacteristic mistakes.

"We weren't perfect against Saracens last week and it's never going to be perfect but what we've looked at is being a lot more resilient and a lot calmer when those things do go wrong, when we go behind and when we make errors.

"We've been a lot more mature in that space and that's part of the evolution the club's gone through and we know if we stick at it, eventually it will work."

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Dowson hailed what he says was a whole squad effort that contributed to Saints' win against Munster.

He added: "We talk about our training level and there's loads of lads who haven't had the opportunity to play today but they went incredibly hard on Wednesday, incredibly hard on Friday to give us that opportunity so that when it's not perfect we can recover from it and so that we can put some of those plays together.

"That whole squad effort is part of what's so pleasing about the group at the moment - that everyone's bought in."

Saints will now get set to host a Bulls side who thrashed Lyon 59-19 in their last-16 encounter.

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"I think the game's next Saturday night so we've got to make sure we're fully focused for that and then it's Leicester, it's Quins and it goes from there." Dowson said.

"We'll worry about it all when we get to it."

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