'We love this period of the season' - Mitchell insists Saints are relishing tough schedule

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Alex Mitchell says he and his Saints team-mates will continue to relish what the scrum-half labels 'crunch time'.

The black, green and gold are currently engaged in a hugely difficult but hugely significant set of fixtures.

They have claimed wins on four successive weekends, defeating Harlequins, Saracens, Glasgow Warriors and, last Friday, Toulon.

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But the big games keep coming as Saints return to Premiership action on Saturday, travelling to face Gloucester.

Alex Mitchell (picture: Ketan Shah)Alex Mitchell (picture: Ketan Shah)
Alex Mitchell (picture: Ketan Shah)

That match is followed by a home game against Sale Sharks and a tricky trip to Exeter Chiefs before European action returns.

And Mitchell said: "It's a tough fixture list because we've got 12 games on the bounce but we love this period of the season because it's crunch time.

"You can push in that top six in the league and do well in Europe so every game is important.

"There's no let-offs in the competition.

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"We're looking forward to Gloucester away on Christmas Eve Eve so we'll look forward to trying to get the job done there and then coming home to enjoy Christmas."

Saints were beset by more injuries last Friday, losing three wingers to injury against Toulon.

But they managed to show incredible character to come back from 19-15 down late on, securing a bonus-point Champions Cup victory thanks to Tom Lockett's late try.

"It was a tough night but we got the win," said Mitchell.

"We know they're an awesome side, a great side in Europe and to get a win at home in front of a massive crowd was huge for us.

"We really enjoyed that one.

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"The atmosphere from the first whistle was amazing, and it's amazing to play when the stadium is pumping like that.

"To play well and go toe to toe with one of the best sides in Europe is massive.

"Obviously we've still got work to do because we've got two more pool games (against Bayonne and Munster) coming up in January.

"We're two from two but there's more to come from us, which is great."

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Mitchell played the full 80 minutes at scrum-half as replacement Tom James was forced to come on to play on the wing.

"We lost three wingers - TJ was on the wing so we knew we'd have to stay in the fight," Mitchell said.

"That second half was tough at times, we had to deal with their maul, their pack, their powerful runners, and I felt like we did that for the most part.

"Then we had an opportunity to win the game, they were down to 13 and we took our chance.

"We're massively happy with that."

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Toulon were reduced to 13 men late on due to a high tackle and a deliberate knock-on in the same passage of play.

And Saints kept their cool to make the most of their numerical advantage.

"In those situations sometimes people get too eager and excited so you've just got to stay calm, stick to your process and stick to what we're good at and our DNA and not get too ahead of ourselves," Mitchell said.

"We knew they were down to 13 but that doesn't change too much because we've still got to put tempo on them, look after the breakdown and create an opportunity to score.

"It was really mature from us at the end and to get an opportunity to score and win the game is really pleasing."