Dickson has patience of a Saint


Published: Friday 5th December 2014 by The News Editor

Comments (0)

Lee Dickson believes patience will be key when Northampton resume their European Champions Cup campaign against Treviso in Italy on Saturday.

Saints recovered from an opening weekend loss to Racing Metro in October by beating Welsh challengers the Ospreys, and they will be expected to remain on a quarter-final course from Pool Five by claiming quickfire home and away victories over Treviso during the next eight days.

“You can’t afford to lose more than one game if you want to finish as pool winners,” scrum-half Dickson said.

“They are a big physical team, and they are very proud, especially at home. Italian teams are always like that.

“It will be a very tough game, so we have to front up to the challenge. It’s all about patience and playing your own way and outworking them. Hopefully, you get your rewards in the final 20 minutes of each half.”

Northampton are without star wing George North, who missed Wales’ autumn series finale against South Africa last weekend due to concussion, but returning England internationals Dylan Hartley, Courtney Lawes and Tom Wood all feature among the replacements.

Aviva Premiership rivals Sale Sharks and Saracens meet in a Pool One encounter at the AJ Bell Stadium, with Saracens’ England prop Mako Vunipola making his first start of the season after recovering from injury and Owen Farrell featuring as inside centre outside a half-back combination of Charlie Hodgson and Richard Wigglesworth.

But whatever happens in the Saracens game, twice European champions Munster will edge closer to a quarter-final place from Pool One if they beat Thomond Park visitors Clermont Auvergne on Saturday.

The Irish heavyweights would also reach an impressive milestone – their 100th win in European competition – if they back up October victories over Sale and Saracens.

“It’s non-negotiable – you have just got to win your home games,” Munster skipper Peter O’Mahony said.

“Fear drives you on in European rugby. You have the first two games, you think you’re doing all right, and then all of a sudden it’s back-to-back games against Clermont.

“It’s the beautiful thing about this competition, how competitive it is and how it has turned out now. It’s more competitive than it ever was, so you have to be on your game.”

Liam Williams, Samson Lee and Jake Ball, who all featured in the Wales team that beat the Springboks last Saturday, return to Scarlets colours for their Pool Three appointment with Ulster in Belfast on Saturday.

And the Ospreys are boosted by Wales quartet Dan Biggar, Rhys Webb, Scott Baldwin and Alun-Wyn Jones all featuring in the starting line-up against Liberty Stadium visitors and Pool Five leaders Racing Metro.

“The right performance on Saturday can really open this pool up at the halfway stage, but we know it’s a big challenge,” Ospreys head coach Steve Tandy said.

“We’ve talked all season long about pursuing excellence, and it’s on days like this that the one and two per cents can make a big difference.”

Sunday’s Champions Cup action, meanwhile, sees English trio Leicester, Harlequins and Wasps all facing key encounters.

After losing to the Scarlets in October, Pool Three hopefuls Leicester cannot afford to come unstuck against reigning European champions Toulon at Welford Road, and Wasps are already on the Pool Two ropes ahead of their trip to Castres due to successive defeats when they faced Leinster and Harlequins earlier this season.

Leinster visit Quins for a first meeting since the infamous ‘Bloodgate’ scandal game five years ago when the English club faked a blood injury to wing Tom Williams in an attempt to get injured goalkicker Nick Evans back on the pitch.

Leinster won the quarter-final clash 6-5, but the fall-out for Quins was significant as then rugby director Dean Richards landed a three-year worldwide coaching ban and the club received a £260,000 fine.

The stakes will again be high at the Twickenham Stoop on Sunday, with both teams making the Pool Two running, locked on eight points each.

Pool Four sees in-form leaders Glasgow visiting four-time European champions Toulouse, with the winners at Stade Ernest Wallon knowing they can take charge of a group that also includes Bath and Montpellier.

Published: Friday 5th December 2014 by The News Editor

Comments (0)

Local business search