Focus key as Saints take on Harlequins

George Furbank

Quins won the Premiership last season after finishing fourth in the table.

That’s the position the Saints currently hold with three regular-season games to go, while the Quins are third.

It promises to be an entertaining battle this week between two teams who have shown they have the ability to mount some impressive returns of late.

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And Furbank said: “They produced some comebacks to win the Premiership and it would be nice if we could emulate that, but it would be nice if we weren’t so far behind.

“We want to be in a situation where we are leading and we feel dominant, but we also recognize that there will be games where we are a bit under the pump.

“Showing this character is important.

“We have to focus for 80 minutes because if you go off for a minute they’ll take a quick slap or a quick throw and Marcus (Smith) or (Alex) Dombrandt will pull something out of the bag.

“It’s a focus game but we have to put our defense on them.

“If we have five minutes of slippage they can score three or four tries and we are well aware that we cannot afford to play like we did against Bath last weekend.”

The Saints led 31-12 at Bath with just 15 minutes remaining, but they scored four tries late to secure an almost surreal success.

“We were pretty bad for 60 minutes and then we got him out of the bag in the last 20 minutes,” said Furbank, who started the game at the opening half.

“We have learned a lot of lessons from these 60 but also from the positives of the last 20.

“We were always confident we could come back, and Brandon (Nansen) almost took one for the team in the sense that we had a five-minute break to regroup and get on the same page.

“It wasn’t so much long conversations, it was short, sharp conversations that got everyone on the same page and allowed them to come in with a clear mind over the last 20 years.

“The boys brought energy to the bench and that allowed us to put our game on the pitch and put our rhythm there, which probably killed them in the end.

“We’ve put ourselves in the top four now.

“We recognize that we have three tough games ahead, but we want to be in the box – better not count on any other results.

“We have to go and do a performance on Friday night.”

One of the key men for the Saints last weekend was Alex Coles, who stepped into the void after Courtney Lawes was sidelined with a thumb injury.

Furbank is close friends with Coles as both went through Saints Academy.

And he said: “Colesy is in great shape.

“He has good experience and he is a leader on the pitch.

“It’s great to see him do that.

“I think he came back a few extra pounds from the lockdown, so that helped too.

“To see players like him, Dingers (Fraser Dingwall) and Mitch (Alex Mitchell) doing well this season is really nice.”

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