Winger Tom Collins admitted Northampton Saints were desperate to put on a show for their supporters at Franklin’s Gardens, as they qualified for the Singha Premiership Rugby 7s Series final at the Ricoh Arena.
The hosts were indebted to Howard Packman, who scored four tries in the 27-17 win against Gloucester in the final Group C clash which saw the hosts dramatically qualify for the Carnival in Coventry.
Earlier on they had lost 29-19 to Harlequins in their opening game, but bounced back from that disappointment to record a 24-17 win over Saracens.
And in front of over 10,000 spectators, Collins said it was great to finish on a high after blowing away the cobwebs of the summer.
“After six or seven weeks of pre-season we wanted to put a show on for the crowd after people have taken the time to come and watch us,” he said.
“Obviously the crowd are always good here, they always put a performance in as much as we try to. It’s always good to come out and play in front of them.
“We didn’t get off to the greatest start against Harlequins and I think we rushed things a bit but in the end we got through and the lads put a good performance together.
“There was a bit of rust, we are playing rugby for the first time in a few months and I think a couple of contacts were missed here and there, but it’s nice to bring it back and do something for the fans.”
Northampton Saints will face Exeter Chiefs in the Singha 7s quarter-finals at the Ricoh Arena next weekend, while Group C winners Harlequins will take on Wasps.
An impressive Quins side won all three of their games, scoring 16 tries in the process, against Northampton, Gloucester and Saracens.
And skipper Calum Waters tipped his cap to the influence of England 7s internationals Cam Cowell, who also won the Man of the Round award, and Oskar Hirskyj-Douglas.
“We had a great training session on Thursday which built us up to this, and it was really good to have the England boys along with us,” he said.
“Cam Cowell and Oscar are fantastic, especially in the training session. They have all the technical stuff which helped us a lot.
“I’m ecstatic; it was great work from the boys, everyone dug deep especially arriving late [due to traffic]. We had to dig in in the first game with only a ten-minute warm-up but it was good, a great return.
“It’s been an incredible atmosphere. Lots of people turned out and it was really loud which is really good.”
The results see Harlequins take on final hosts Wasps in their quarter-final at the Ricoh Arena next Sunday, while Saints will face Group B winners Exeter Chiefs first up at the Ricoh Arena.
Quarter-Final line-up so far:
Quarter Final 1 – Cardiff Blues v Group D Runner-up
Quarter Final 2 – Exeter Chiefs v Northampton Saints
Quarter Final 3 – Harlequins v Wasps
Quarter Final 4 – Group D Winner v Ospreys
Gloucester Rugby 26 (Protheroe, Halaifonua, Randall, Thomas)
Saracens 19 (Morris, Crossdale, Earl)
Harlequins 29 (Aspland-Robinson, Lang, Ibitoye, Hirskyj-Douglas, Mikalcius)
Northampton Saints 19 (Emery, Packman, Ludlam)
Gloucester Rugby 10 (Hudson, Protheroe)
Harlequins 31 (Mikalcius 2, Cowell 2, Lang)
Northampton Saints 24 (Collins 2, Grayson, Olver)
Saracens 17 (Haylor, Earl, Sirker )
Harlequins 42 (Lang 3, Aspland-Robinson, Cheeseman, Nairn)
Saracens 17 (Forster, Gilksten, Sirker)
Gloucester Rugby 17 (Creed 2, Randall)
Northampton Saints 27 (Packman 4, Rayment)
Eight teams will play for the first silverware of the season in the Singha Premiership Rugby 7s Series Finals from 2pm at the Ricoh Arena, Coventry on Sunday 7 August. Click here for tickets