'This is what we're in rugby for' - Saints coach Dowson looks ahead to derby day

Phil Dowson says weeks like this are what everyone at Saints is in rugby for.

By Tom Vickers
Wednesday, 9th February 2022, 4:37 pm
Phil Dowson
Phil Dowson

The black, green and gold go to Mattioli Woods Welford Road to face Leicester Tigers on Friday night.

It is always one of the biggest fixtures on the Gallagher Premiership calendar, and this meeting will be between two sides with real play-off hopes.

Tigers are currently seven points clear at the top of the table, while Saints, 16 points behind their local rivals, are three points off fourth.

And Dowson said: "It will be a full house there on Friday night and we're excited about that.

"It will be a good challenge and that's why a lot of these lads play the game and why we coach, to be in difficult environments against good teams.

"It's a challenge we're definitely up for."

Saints had last weekend off as it was their second and final bye week of the Premiership season.

And now they are fully focused on the task that awaits them at Leicester on Friday night.

"It's a huge week," Dowson said.

"We had a cracking training session on Monday and the boys have flown into it this week.

"It's been really positive so far and we'll be ready for Friday night.

"It was disappointing to say the very least when we played Leicester in October (Saints lost 55-26 at cinch Stadium at Franklin's Gardens).

"We need to take technical lessons from that and make sure emotionally we're in the right place.

"We don't want to try to play that game again, we have to focus on this one.

"We've got to learn those lessons, we have to be better than last time and I'm pretty sure we will be."

Tigers have won 12 of their 14 league games this season.

And Saints forwards coach Dowson said: "They've got a forward pack that's very physical, they're a good mauling side, they've got a good maul defence and they win a lot of scrum penalties.

"Ferg (assistant coach Matt Ferguson) and I will be looking forward to seeing how we go in that forward space.

"They've got skillful 10s and although (George) Ford will be away, they've got Freddie Burns with lots of experience and a great kicking game.

"They've got good ball carriers who really come to the fore, guys like (Guy) Porter and players in the backline who get them on the front foot.

"It's quite clear how they want to play the game and they're in good form."