Mitchell seeks to make Saints tick in top-four bid

You get the feeling that if Saints are to achieve their aims this season, Alex Mitchell will be at the heart of it all.

By Tom Vickers
Saturday, 23rd April 2022, 7:00 am
Alex Mitchell
Alex Mitchell

After all, the scrum-half is the heartbeat of the team, setting the tempo for his side.

Mitchell has 10 tries to his name so far during the current campaign, and plenty of assists, too.

England's loss - Eddie Jones hasn't given him any game time in recent months - has been Saints' gain.

Mitchell has been a consistent presence who has played deep into matches such is his importance to the game plan that his side want to employ and his overall ability.

But when asked how he feels the season has gone for him so far, the 24-year-old takes a modest approach.

"My stats are okay," Mitchell said.

"It's about that consistency for me and trying to get us to tick.

"For me now it's about the results.

"We want that top-four spot so if I can get the team in a good position to push for that, that's my main goal."

Tom James is a good back-up option for Saints, but Mitchell rarely comes off the field early these days.

"I'm really enjoying it," Mitchell added.

"The more game time you have, the better you feel on the field.

"I'm really enjoying my rugby at the moment and hopefully that can continue."

Saints had hoped to use Mitchell to help them give Gloucester the runaround at Kingsholm last Saturday.

But instead of the black, green and gold dictating things, it was the hosts who called the tune.

Gloucester were able to play to their major strength: their maul.

And it cost Saints dear as they fell 21-0 down early on and eventually lost 31-21 in the Challenge Cup last-16 clash, having seen Alex Coles sin-binned and Dan Biggar red carded in the process.

"We had a lot of confidence going into the game and we had the momentum but it was a very frustrating result," said Mitchell.

"We got the first 20 minutes wrong, going 21-0 down to top side like Gloucester, you're going to struggle.

"The cards and errors didn't help us so it was a frustrating one to take.

"We wanted to push in that competition and get some silverware but we've just got to lock on to the Premiership now.

"This is a different competition and we know now this is our one focus.

"It's exciting and there's not going to be any distractions.

"Everyone knows the goal and we'll move towards that."

Saints, who saw their five-match winning streak come to an end last Saturday, will aim to avoid letting Bath get their forwards into the game at The Rec.

Chris Boyd's side have often struggled against this weekend's opponents, and The Rec remains a Premiership ground that Boyd has not won at.

So why have Saints found it so difficult to win at Bath, where their last win came back in December 2015?

"Going away from home is always tough and they've been a good side in the past couple of years," Mitchell said.

"We've struggled to get a result and there's obviously a bit of niggle from the fans and the changing rooms are small.

"It's quite surprising we haven't won there in a few years and hopefully we can get a result on Saturday."

Bath have won just four of their 20 league games this season, and they currently sit bottom of the Premiership standings on 27 points.

But Saints must overcome them if they are to continue to harbour top-four hopes.

"They're obviously a top side with talented individuals," Mitchell said.

"I love going to Bath - it's a lovely place to go.

"The fans are always quite loud, which I love, so I'm very excited about it and I think the lads are as well.

"I know they've struggled with some of their results this season but we know they're going to be dangerous.

"We can't let up this week and we know how important every week is going to be to get that top-four spot."