West readies Saints for breakdown battle with Scarlets

Dorian West has been preparing Saints for a big forward battle with Scarlets (picture: Sharon Lucey)
Dorian West has been preparing Saints for a big forward battle with Scarlets (picture: Sharon Lucey)

Dorian West says Saints have spoken a lot about the breakdown battle with Scarlets ahead of the Saturday night showdown at Franklin’s Gardens.

The Welsh side head to Northampton in buoyant mood, having won six of their seven matches in the Guinness Pro12 this season.

Wayne Pivac’s side boast a number of Wales internationals and their forward pack contains influential players such as Jake Ball and James Davies.

West knows all about the threat they will pose, and has readied his side for the sting that Scarlets possess.

“They’re a good side and they’ve had a really strong start to the season,” said the Saints forwards coach.

“They’ve got a strong back row and we’ve talked a lot about the breakdowns this week. We need to be really accurate in the numbers we get there to secure the ball.

“They’re a good side, they play a lot of expansive rugby and it’s going to be a tough game.

“I think it will be more open than our game against Saracens last week. We’ve seen a lot of the Scarlets and we’ve played them a few times in recent years so we know that they’re a very dangerous team.

“They’re prepared to play and they’ve got exciting backs and a good back row.

“They’ll play from anywhere and they’ll cause us a lot of problems, so we need to make sure that we’re switched on and we need to be at our best.”

And on Ball and Davies, who topped the list as Scarlets’ most successful ball winner at the breakdown on his way to claiming the player of the year award last season, West said: “They are both very good players.

“Jake Ball has got an amazing work rate, he’s a really top athlete so he’s going to be a difficult man to deal with.

“And the amount of ball Davies steals on the floor is unbelievable for quite a small man so he’s someone we’ve spoken about this week and we need to be at our best to make sure we don’t let them into the game.”

Saints will also face Glasgow Warriors and Racing 92 in Pool 3.

And West said: “It’s a difficult competition to win – you’ve got to be at your best and make sure you’ve got your best players available as often as possible.

“You look at some of the teams playing in France with the squad that they’ve got and some of them are better than international teams.”

Saints have lost three of their opening four games in the Aviva Premiership this season.

They were beaten at Worcester and Sale and lost 12-6 at home to Saracens last Saturday.

But West said: “We thought we were good at Sale. We played a lot of good rugby and we felt that we didn’t get the rub of the green in that game. It was a really frustrating afternoon so we were disappointed with that.

“We worked hard last week and played against a strong Saracens team and it was a close game that could have gone either way.

“We were disappointed with some of the things we did in the match and we thought we could have been better in certain areas and we’ve worked hard this week to put it right.

“It’s a matter of stepping up, making sure we give a better performance all-round and hopefully it will be enough to get us the win.”