Saints just had to stay re­laxed to seal con­vinc­ing win, says Lud­lam

The Daily Telegraph - Business - - Sport Rugby Union - By Ben Coles

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.

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