Saints just had to stay relaxed to seal convincing win, says Ludlam
Staying relaxed and retaining possession were the key messages behind Northampton’s second-half romp against London Irish here after a first half that will not need revisiting any time soon.
Northampton in the end came away from Irish’s temporary home with a bonus-point win, thanks to a Tom Collins score and two penalty tries – for offences at the maul and then scrum – before Ahsee Tuala produced the bonus-point try with an acrobatic dive into the corner.
“There was no rocket. We were always relaxed,” Lewis Ludlam, the Northampton Saints captain, said. “We know when we are relaxed and enjoying it that we are playing well.
“The messages were clear, it was about being disciplined and keeping hold of the ball, going out and playing and enjoying the second half. Once we did that it paid off.”
Ludlam, the England back-row, was captaining Northampton for just the second time, and the 24-year-old was inches away from scoring himself when Saints were on the charge, only for his foot to hit the touchline in the corner.
Breakdown penalties were a constant theme in the first half, particularly for sealing off at the ruck, but Ludlam backed the new breakdown interpretations which are being used by referees to speed up the ruck area.
“It’s just an adjusting period. It’s all for the good of the game and chatting to the referees, it’s about how we can find that middle ground, letting the game flow and making the breakdown as safe and quick as possible,” Ludlam said. “It’s something all teams are adjusting to and we’re learning about what we can and cannot do at the moment.
“It’s good for us, it speeds the game up, ball’s in play for longer away from scrums at times as well. It’s exciting and can only be good for the game.”
Northampton made 10 changes ahead of facing London Irish and a similar number will be expected for their fixture at home against Bath, their rivals pushing for a top-four place, on Wednesday night.
“You’ve seen the table, how tight it is. It’s competitive and I think the team can improve the most over this short period of time and will be the most successful,” Ludlam explained.
“You’re always looking at things that went well last week and the things that didn’t go so well, and try to put those right the following week,” he added.