Phil Dowson had difficulty describing an incredible match in the Premiership, where his team, Northampton, made a comeback to win 42-36 at Sandy Park. In a breathtaking fashion, Saints reclaimed the top spot in the Premiership with centre Rory Hutchinson scoring a try in the final seconds for an improbable victory. Despite being behind 26-0 in the first 23 minutes, a remarkable turnaround, including three tries from wing Ollie Sleightholme, propelled Saints above Harlequins.
Northampton’s director of rugby, Dowson, expressed disappointment with the outcome, stating that it did not go according to plan. He struggled to put into words how it went wrong. They were aware of their opponent’s strength in starting off strong, especially when playing at home. Their opponent typically scores the most tries in the first 10 minutes compared to other teams. Despite discussing the importance of starting fast, Northampton failed to do so and found themselves trailing 26-0, their poorest performance yet.
“The two goals we scored right before halftime allowed us to regroup and reach a point where we could make a comeback in the game.”
“If the score had been 26-0 at halftime, it would have been a difficult task to come back from, but with a score of 26-14, we can take comfort in knowing that we have made an impact and can build confidence from it.”
The England duo Alex Mitchell and Tommy Freeman’s impactful second-half performances off the bench were crucial to the Saints’ transformation.
According to Dowson, having Alex Mitchell, Tom Pearson, Tommy Freeman, and Curtis Langdon as substitutes provides a significant boost to the team’s performance.
When transitioning from Europe to the Premiership, the pace is relentless and there are matches every week. No player can handle playing every single minute of every game, so we must have faith in our team and give everyone a chance to play.
This is why the bench has that appearance. They possess both quality and energy, which is how we achieve such successful outcomes.
The beginning was not ideal, but as the game progressed, it was evident that we improved and we were able to achieve our desired outcome in the end.
The Saints’ win extended their unbeaten streak to seven games and broke Exeter’s record of 23 consecutive home wins in all competitions. The team’s captain, George Furbank, and Callum Braley each scored a try, while Fin Smith’s six conversions secured a bonus-point victory.
The Chiefs dominated in the beginning with two tries from Jacques Vermeulen. Stu Townsend, Immanuel Feyi-Waboso, and substitute Rusi Tuima also scored, while Henry Slade successfully converted four and added a penalty.
After the loss, Rob Baxter remained positive following an epic match in the Premiership. The director of rugby for Exeter expressed, “We were aware that Northampton is a strong team and that it would be a difficult test. I just told the team that I am extremely proud of them.”
“Did we make some positive contributions during the 80 minutes? Absolutely. I won’t criticize the players, as they performed at their best.”
“I was thoroughly impressed by the game of Premiership rugby, and I am not overly emotional about today’s outcome or too disheartened by it.”
Our team’s momentum decreased during the game, and we were at risk of losing completely. However, we were determined not to let that happen. Currently, we are among the top four teams in the Premiership, and this is a thrilling time for us to be in the midst of competition.