Dowson salutes trio after Saints' pre-season opener against Bedford Blues

Phil Dowson praised young stars Henry Pollock and Archie McParland after Saints' 33-24 pre-season defeat at Bedford Blues on Saturday afternoon.
A youthful Saints side suffered defeat at Bedford Blues (picture: Ketan Shah)A youthful Saints side suffered defeat at Bedford Blues (picture: Ketan Shah)
A youthful Saints side suffered defeat at Bedford Blues (picture: Ketan Shah)

And the black, green and gold boss also hailed a much more experienced member of the squad, saluting the leadership of hooker Tom Cruse.

A largely youthful Saints side went in 19-12 up at half-time against Blues at Goldington Road, but the Championship outfit hit back in the second period to win it.

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"It was a typical first hit-out really in terms of pre-season games often look pretty scrappy at times and pretty loose," Dowson said.

"There were lots of things we need to get better at, but the effort, desire and intent of what we were trying to do and the new bits we were trying to put into our game – there was evidence of that in patches.

"Clearly we're a long way from the finished article but it was a really good hit-out to find out where we are."

Full-back George Hendy delivered a try double for Saints, with Angus Scott-Young, who started in the second row, and No.8 Pollock also on the scoresheet.

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And when asked who impressed him, Dowson said: "Henry Pollock stood out again, as did Archie McParland at nine.

"I'm not going to name too many names because you go around the houses, but I thought Tom Cruse led particularly well as captain of that young group. It's the experience coupled with his ability to lead - those are the important bits.

"Particularly in the first half, we saw lots and lots of elements of our game that we're trying to drive."

Saints will now regroup ahead of their second and final pre-season fixture, at home to the Barbarians next Saturday.

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"I do enjoy these games and I think having a game at the end of the week is important because we've spent a long time working towards it," Dowson said.

"You find out what's working and what's not working and what you need to keep developing until you start playing competitive matches.

"It's fantastic to have a game against the Barbarians next weekend, and that's our first outing at home.

"We had a good record at home in the Prem last season and the crowd are always brilliant at the Gardens.

"We're excited about opening our account at home and getting stuck in again.”