Northampton desperate to turn it around in Europe

George North says Northampton are motivated for this weekend

English Rugby club Northampton Saints are desperate to make up for last week’s heavy loss to Racing 92 when the two sides meet at Franklin’s Gardens on Friday.

The English teams have been the form teams so far in this season’s European Champions Cup and have won 14 out of 17 matches to date.

However one of the losses was a 33-3 Northampton Saints loss to Racing in Paris last weekend.

And the English side’s Wales wing George North says that defeat is motivating the 2014 Premiership champions ahead of the return Pool 3 fixture.

“The boys want to rectify what happened last weekend. The standard that the French teams have is tough to step up to, but we’ve been looking forward to the return fixture,” he told SaintsTV.

“Racing 92 are a big team full of stars — they have so much quality (that) they have two or three sides to pick from. It is one of those where we need to deal with it and adapt.”

One of those stars, New Zealand legend Dan Carter, had an impressive debut for Racing last weekend as they dominated Saints, who have been out of sorts all season, even in their domestic league where they have won only three of their first six matches.

Racing for their part have been largely bucking the trend of disappointing results for the French in this year’s tournaments — their two from two in contrast to just six wins from 15 matches overall for the Top 14 representatives.

Record four-time champions Toulouse are one of those to have suffered the most with just one win from three as they were humiliated 38-0 at Ulster a week ago.

The French giants will have to do without influential No.8 Louis Picamoles for the visit of the Irish province on Sunday in a match they must win to maintain any hope of reaching the knock-out stages.

Saracens are in control of Pool 1 having won all three matches so far and host debutants Oyonnax on Saturday.

They romped to a 45-10 win in France last weekend but head coach Mark McCall believes they can do much better at Allianz Park.

“The performance in France was a mixed one in truth,” he said.

“When we were good, we were very good, although we had a 25-minute period in the beginning of the match where we did not really leave our own half because of our own ill-discipline, but when we got in their half we were very clinical and scored some nice tries.”

A home win would appear a near certainty with even Oyonnax head coach Olivier Azam admitting his side have limited ambitions.

“We will look to show some improvement in the rematch,” he said of a side that has lost two from two.

Reigning champions Toulon travel to Leinster on Saturday with the Irish province, three-time former winners like their hosts, already as good as eliminated after three straight defeats.

But Toulon’s Irish lock Paul O’Connell, who is injured and will miss the match, believes Leinster will nonetheless be fired up.

“There will probably be 50,000 (fans) at the game: a full house,” he said.

“It will be the biggest game of Leinster’s season even though there’s a slim chance of them qualifying now.”

Toulon need to take something from the game to keep pace with English sides Bath and Wasps, who meet in the other Pool 5 clash.

A last gasp George Ford conversion of Anthony Watson’s try gave Bath a 25-23 win at Wasps last weekend.

Bath maintained a perfect record but Wasps are top of the group by two points having played a game more.

Last year’s runners-up Clermont are another side looking to bounce back as they host Exeter on Sunday.

The French giants already trail their opponents and Ospreys, who travel to Bordeaux-Begles the day before, by five points in Pool 2 after losing 31-14 in England last week.

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