Dowson takes the positives from Saints' last-gasp defeat at Bristol Bears

Phil Dowson says there was 'loads of really good stuff' about Saints' display in the 39-38 Premiership Rugby Cup defeat at Bristol Bears on Saturday afternoon.
Phil Dowson and Sam Vesty in conversation with Dave Walder (photo by Malcolm Couzens/Getty Images)Phil Dowson and Sam Vesty in conversation with Dave Walder (photo by Malcolm Couzens/Getty Images)
Phil Dowson and Sam Vesty in conversation with Dave Walder (photo by Malcolm Couzens/Getty Images)

The black, green and gold looked set to secure a thrilling win when Toby Thame's try put them four points up late on.

But Gabriel Ibitoye went over from the final play of the game to ensure it was the Bears who would claim the bonus-point success.

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Despite the result, Dowson was pleased with much of what he saw from his side at Ashton Gate.

The Saints boss said: "It's really frustrating and it's going to pain people to hear it, but there's actually loads of really good stuff in there.

"What's most pleasing is a lot of the stuff we've been working on in pre-season is really obvious.

"Clearly to concede 39 points away from home is not good enough and harks back to last year a little bit, but from my point of view, some of the stuff we've asked the players to really focus on we saw really good examples of.

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"Clearly we didn't do it for long enough, but bearing in mind this is the first 40 minutes for a lot of people like (Fraser) Dingwall, (James) Ramm, (George) Furbank, Fin (Smith), loads of it was really positive.

"There's loads to work on but loads of evidence of the things we've been focusing on.

"There's clearly things we need to coach better but there's loads of guys who have come back in having not played so I'm not overly concerned.

"Clearly we need to get a better result away from home but we're on a path and a plan in order to be ready for a long run of games in the Premiership and in Europe."

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Saints had produced a lengthy spell of defence before Ibitoye eventually punctured their resistance.

And Dowson added: "There was a great D set, we get the scrum, we make a mistake on the scrum, they get another one so we did two D sets in the 80th minute to try to keep them out.

"We didn't keep them out, but we went 15 phases or something and showed a lot of character in what we're about.

"Clearly we need to be better in trying to get the ball back and on a different day we do, but there's loads of good things including how connected we are, the work in our back field, covering space, some of our maul D was excellent.

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"Our lineout didn't function particularly well in the first half so there are clearly lessons in that.

"For large parts of that, it was excellent.

"Manny (Iyogun) came back from nine months off and there's loads of things we can look at from a video point of view and say 'here's what we really like and here's what we're going to be about this year'.

"At this stage of the season, lessons are the most important thing because we're not going to get judged at the end of the season by our PRC results.

"We clearly want to win the tournament, we clearly want a semi-final, we'd love to be at home and clearly that's a tall order now, but we've got to make sure we've got our systems in place and we learn those harsh lessons today as oppose to in November or December."