Day: No repeat of Franklin's Gardens mauling
May 24, 2013
Christian Day has been an integral part of Saints' good form this term © PA Photos
Northampton Saints lock Christian Day is adamant his side have learnt the lessons from the thrashing they received earlier this season at the hands of Saturday's Aviva Premiership final opponents Leicester Tigers.
Saints went into their March 30 clash against the Tigers at Franklin's Gardens full of hope off the back of wins over London Irish and Wasps but they were taught a lesson by the Tigers with Richard Cockerill's men running out 36-8 victors. For Day, it was a watershed moment in their season and since that nadir they have confounded the doubters and stormed to their maiden Premiership final.
And Day, who is starting alongside Courtney Lawes for the final, is determined to make sure there is no repeat at Twickenham. "We have played Leicester enough now to know what's coming and how to deal with it and what we need to bring to the table to beat them," Day told ESPN. "Bath's win showed they are beatable but similarly, them doing a job on us when we were at home showed us that if we are not up to the mark they are going to punish us.
"We have certainly played well over the past five or six weeks so hopefully they will see a different team to the one they did at Franklin's Gardens.
"I think we went into that game with maybe some over-confidence and we got taught a lesson. From there we have upped our physicality, our defence has improved and it was a bit of an eye-opener. We've got to bring that bit of extra and hopefully this weekend we can perform on the big stage."
Central to Northampton's run to the final has been a strong sense of inner-belief. At the start of the season critics deemed them to have a weaker side than last season following the loss of free-scoring winger Chris Ashton. But Jim Mallinder's men have rallied with the likes of Samu Manoa and the Pisi brothers, George and Ken, putting in consistently impressive performances.
The pre-season perception of a slightly weaker Saints outfit put some noses out and they have used that as motivation all season. Day added: "For me, when I came back from injury a couple of seasons ago, people were panicking about the Saints not replacing Juandre Kruger. That, for me, was a massive motivating factor.
"And I know others have used that mindset to drive them on to higher standards. That has also been shown through the international call ups with Luther Burrell and Stephen Myler recognised by England; they have not ridden a wave of publicity, they are there on merit and that is great to see."
The Saints' place in the final is a far cry from a poor run of results around Christmas where they suffered back-to-back losses against Harlequins and then Saracens. But their January 5 victory over Exeter Chiefs signalled a chance in their fortunes and within the camp, they were drawing inspiration from another source - baseball's Boston Red Sox.
"It was just after Christmas and we were on a bad run of form and it was a comparison with a baseball team in America. They had consistently managed to lose to the New York Yankees who were their major rivals and they had always got close to winning but never quite got there.
"People had written them off that season in particular and they came up with the mantra 'Why not us?' Why does everyone think we are going to lose? So that is something that hit home for us and we watched a bit of the documentary about it and we were in a similar situation to that.
"It has been a bit of a motivating factor for the players but it really has been a driving force throughout the season. It doesn't matter what certain pundits or the press are saying as we are one win away now from picking up the big trophy."
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Tom Hamilton is the Assistant Editor of ESPNscrum.