Saints to set out their stall for Perpignan

Northampton Saints tackle French champions Perpignan at Franklin’s Gardens on Sunday with the Heineken Cup 2002 champions wary of a side wounded by three tournament defeats in four outings and a haul of just six Pool 1 points.


Former double tournament champions Munster head the group courtesy of two additional bonus points in their 15 points tally but Saints’ midfield star Shane Geraghty insists the win is all they are focusing on.


The Saints’ only blip has been a 29-13 defeat at Stade Aime Giral with the final big Pool 1 showdown coming when Munster and the Saints collide at Thomond Park in Round 6.


“Obviously we lost down there without getting a bonus point – and that was a big disappointment – but hopefully it will be an entirely different kettle of fish at Franklin’s Gardens with our own fans right behind us,” said Geraghty.


“We are desperate for a win that would keep us involved and then we would just have to wait and see how Round 6 goes.


“Perpignan will come over with nothing to lose – and that could be an extremely dangerous thing as far as we are concerned. With them having lost three games so far perhaps we will not know until the day how they will play but we will prepare for a huge challenge from the French champions.


“They could quite easily have won at Munster before losing by a point so they can certainly be a threat on the road and we will not be taking them lightly in anyway whatsoever.


“In a situation like this it will be interesting to see which Perpignan team turns up on the day but we can only concentrate on ourselves and what we want to do on our own ground.


“We are really proud of our home record – we have not lost here for quite some time – and as a spectacle I think the match could be right up there with the Munster game, which was just incredible.


“However, Perpignan have got a very powerful pack, with prop Nicolas Mas at the heart of their scrum, and they obviously enjoyed playing in front of their fans in Round 2.


“But, on top of that, on the day our scrum was not as steady as we would have liked, and possibly our line-out also didn’t go that well, so we need to get those things right on Sunday.


“Ideally it would be great for us to get on top up front this time but we have to at least match them if we are going to be in with a decent shot of the win we want so badly.


“With Munster having picked up three bonus points to our one, bonuses are the only difference between us at the moment and we are well aware that qualification for the quarter-finals frequently comes down to bonus points.


“It was massively disappointing that we didn’t get the try bonus at Treviso, when, even with the snow, we had a chance in the dying minutes, but we will certainly not start chasing any potential bonus points at this stage.


“As always, it will be play for the win first and foremost and then, if the opportunity is there, back ourselves to go for any bonus available.


“It is great playing in a team under coaches who trust you to make your own decisions out on the pitch and I am thoroughly enjoying the way the Saints want to play – as we proved in such an important match as our opening Pool game against Munster.”

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