'Massive boots to fill' but Graham shows his worth with superb Saints showing

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Sam Graham admitted he had 'massive boots to fill' as he stepped into the Saints side in place of Juarno Augustus on Saturday.

And the former Doncaster Knights skipper is desperate to keep performing as he looks to hold on to a starting shirt.

Graham was named at No.8 after Augustus was ruled out, and the 25-year-old went on to produce a huge performance in the 41-34 Gallagher Premiership win against Gloucester.

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It was a huge boost for Saints as their squad depth shone through at cinch Stadium at Franklin's Gardens.

Sam GrahamSam Graham
Sam Graham

And Graham said: "The nice thing is that the back row is so competitive.

"They were massive boots to fill with Juarno out and I want to get as much time on the field as I can. To do that, I know I've got to keep performing and just keep pushing on."

Graham grabbed his third try in 14 appearances this season as he powered over from close range during the second period.

And he joked: "A 40-metre wonder try!

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"It was very nice to get over the line but that's all credit to the work we've done in attack during the week.

"We knew the opportunities would come if we built pressure - and they did."

Despite the bonus-point success, Saints were left with a slightly sour taste in the mouth as top-four rivals Gloucester scored three times in the final five minutes to secure two losing bonus points.

And Graham said: "In some instances we really picked up where we left off against Sale, but it is disappointing to have let them come away with two bonus points.

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"There was lots of good stuff but the final 10 minutes was unacceptable and there's still lots to work on.

"What we want as a Saints side is to show we can score points from anywhere and that we can build periods of pressure. We did it in bucketloads and the scoreboard showed with 10, 15 minutes to go.

"But it's back to work on Monday to sort that last 10 minutes out."

Gloucester had registered twice from their trademark mauls during the first period, meaning the scores were level at 10-10 at half-time.

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"We've just got to be more aggressive," said Graham, discussing Saints' maul defence.

"By our high standards, that was too passive from us.

"We've done a lot of work on it and that was, in some ways, a step back.

"We've got to be a lot more aggressive in that space because as soon as we push them back, the ref's telling them to use it, and that's a win.

"Unfortunately, if you don't stop it and they get a roll on, it's very hard to stop - and that showed.

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"The thought at half-time was that their only way in was their maul, which they're really good at and it's their identity.

"We knew if we fixed that and stopped them getting the chance to get into our 22, we would be fine.

"As we showed, for half an hour we did exactly that and we started running away with it.

"We thought it was all us, we just needed to convert it, which we started to do and we pulled away."

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Saints' next fixture is a trip to one of Graham's former clubs, Bristol Bears, on Friday night.

And Graham said: "It's going to be quite cool if I'm selected to play where it started for me in a professional sense.

"I'm looking forward to it."