Northampton Saints prop Kieran Brookes believes the commitment the side are showing for each other could be the decisive factor in claiming victory from tight Aviva Premiership Rugby encounters.
That was no more evident than in a narrow 20-19 victory over Exeter Chiefs last weekend, with the Saints fighting back from a 13-0 deficit at Franklin’s Gardens to take their second win of the campaign.
It was claimed by the boot of Harry Mallinder who kicked the decisive penalty moments from time, but with a trip to Harlequins to come on Saturday, Brookes knows it’s the Saints’ starlets like the versatile 20-year-old who will become crucial as the season develops.
“The squad we have at the moment is a group that works hard for each other off the pitch,” he said.
“And being able to take that onto the field, knowing that you’ve got guys who won’t give up, gives you a lift at the same time.
“We see what these younger players do week in, week out, so there were no nerves about what they were being asked to do. It gives a massive lift to the lads, knowing we’ve got the depth.
“Any away game is tough when the crowd is up against you, but that’s when we’ve got to stick together and pull tighter to play our style of rugby. Our travelling fans get behind us, but we’ve got to go down and play our rugby.”
Like Saints, Quins have also had a smattering of impressive performances, defeating Aviva Premiership Rugby champions Saracens, although they still sit just one place off bottom spot heading into the weekend.
But Brookes knows that there is more to the men from the Stoop than just league position, despite his side boasting a superior recent record, winning all of their last seven encounters.
“We’ve had a couple of disappointing results over the past couple of weeks, games that would have put us in a completely different position going into Exeter had we won them,” continued the 27-year-old.
“That gave us a bit pressure facing the Chiefs, now we can take that going into this weekend, both the quality of rugby that we showed in getting the fightback, and also the character to get us back there in the first place.
“We went to Quins last year and played quite well, but they did the same and we needed to show that character in that game.
“Now we can go down there with a bit of form we can definitely come away with a win.”