Northampton Saints may be preparing for a tough Aviva Premiership Rugby appointment at the Rec this weekend, but Christian Day is hoping his side will be back at Franklin’s Gardens by the time the end-of-season semi-finals come around.
Day’s table-topping Saints take on second-placed Bath Rugby in the weekend’s standout clash on Saturday, with both sides looking to increase the distance between themselves and the clutch of clubs chasing hard in pursuit.
The reigning Premiership champions stuttered to an unconvincing 15-9 victory over London Irish in the last round of fixtures, but having lost just one league game in their last seven, they look an imposing prospect as the home straight comes into view.
And the Northampton lock, who was voted the Players’ Player of the Year in a memorable 2013/14 campaign, sees the mouth-watering clash with Bath Rugby as an opportunity to move closer to that dream final four scenario.
“We want to keep pushing because we want a home semi-final,” Day said.
“We know that with a semi-final at home you give yourself a good chance to get to Twickenham and set yourself up for another big match.
“We are well poised and we are proud of our position in the league at the moment, but the other teams are chasing hard so we have to keep going.
“We have had a couple of disappointments this season, but overall we are going pretty well.
“We are top of the Premiership, into the LV= Cup semi-finals and have got a European quarter-final as well, so we are certainly well positioned for the back-end of the season – but we have got some really tough games coming at us.”
The Saints sit five points above their next opponents following Friday’s success at a wet Franklin's Gardens, although the hosts were below their devastating best in a tight affair.
Day admitted that a repeat performance would not yield the same result this time around.
“I think our execution in the final third was our biggest issue,” he added.
“We created a lot of chances but we just couldn’t put points on the board.
“Every time we get into the opposition 22 we want to come away with some points, but four or five times on Friday we came away with nothing.
“It will be a big game against Bath. It’s not a make or break fixture, but there’s no doubt it is a big one.
“We have prepared well because we know that we are facing a very high quality team, and we will need to be better than last week to come away with anything.”
The 31-year-old is likely to start alongside Samu Manoa at the Rec as the pair continue their second-row partnership, but with the American off to Toulon next season, Northampton's acquisition of Michael Paterson from Sale Sharks for the 2015/16 campaign is one that Day is full of praise for.
"Samu is a pretty unique talent and he will be a difficult man to replace because he can play any position in the back five of the pack so effectively, which not many players can do," the Saints lock said.
"But he (Paterson) can do it. He played really well at No.8 for Cardiff, he can play at 6 and he is very good in the second row as well.
"He is a multi-talented forward, and he has been showing his qualities this season for Sale, so there is no doubt he will be a good addition."
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