Saints scrum-half Groom set for special 2017 opener
When you're at your lowest ebb, the only way is up.
And that is certainly how Saints were viewing life prior to last Friday’s success against Sale Sharks.
They eventually received a welcome pre-Christmas boost, ripping some monkeys off backs to secure four precious Aviva Premiership points.
Not only did they end a four-match losing streak, they also saw three more barren runs ended.
Ben Foden, Tom Wood and Luther Burrell all popped up with their first tries of what has been a pretty lean campaign.
And with some sort of atmosphere back at Franklin’s Gardens, there was finally reason for some festive cheer.
A positive week, which included escapes from the long hand of the law over George North’s head injury and the selection at Leinster, culiminated in four Friday night points.
And Saints can now start 2017 with far more optimism than they possessed after the drubbing in Dublin just six days before the Sharks were sunk.
“It’s a funny game,” said South African scrum-half Nic Groom, who saw what he thought were two tries ruled out last Friday.
“It doesn’t matter who you’ve got in your team or what plans you make, you can still lose to anyone.
“At the beginning (of the season), we maybe got on the wrong end of a couple of results and there were other times where we just got it horribly wrong, but now we’re back to square one.
“We’re focusing on what makes us good and what gives us an edge over the other teams.
“We need to do the little things right.”
Saints largely did that against the Sharks, who were toothless rather than ruthless.
And it felt like a cathartic experience at the Gardens, with the overwhelming feeling of relief greeted with more noise than at most other home matches during this campaign.
“I did notice it (the improved atmosphere),” Groom said.
“I mentioned desperation and if you’re a desperate side, you’re a dangerous side - it’s a double-edged sword sometimes.
“For us, it’s just about finding the balance.
“Our defence was awesome last Friday.
“Over the previous two weekends, we conceded far too many points.
“We showed a bit of pride and once we front up, the attack side of things should take care of themselves.
“There were one or two disappointments last week where we could have scored a couple more tries, but we’d like to think we turned a little corner and things will start to come right.”
Saints will now head to Gloucester on New Year’s Day bidding to record back-to-back wins.
And how welcome that would be in the pursuit of a top-six place.
“Gloucester are a very tough side to beat there, they’ve got a very passionate supporter base and we’re under no illusions,” Groom said.
“Regardless of the occasion and the fact it’s New Year’s Day, we’re not going to use that as an excuse.
“We’ll be looking to really turn our season around again.
“These next two games put us back to square one and we’re really focusing on ourselves.
“We’re just looking to get another win.”
Groom, who arrived at Saints from Super Rugby side Stormers during the summer, has yet to sample a game at Kingsholm.
But he said: “I have heard about The Shed.
“Not a lot of teams go there and win, so it doesn’t get any easier in this league, but it’s going to be a good experience, I’m sure.
“Every ground in the Premiership is special, just like last Friday was, so it’s one to look forward to.”