Saints urged to break losing habit

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The Independent Online

The Northampton coach, Alan Solomons, has urged his players to end their run of defeats against London Irish today and avoid what would be an unwanted club record.

The Northampton coach, Alan Solomons, has urged his players to end their run of defeats against London Irish today and avoid what would be an unwanted club record.

After a promising start to the season, the Saints are one defeat away from the worst-ever run in the club's history, having lost their past six Zurich Premiership games.

Solomons has accepted personal responsibility for the "unacceptable" slump and urged his players to translate their promising European form into the Premiership.

"We have got to break the losing habit. I thought we had started to get out of the hole with the game against Glasgow. Then I thought we played really well against Llanelli, so that's why I was so disappointed that we didn't get the win against Leeds," said Solomons.

"We took two steps forward and we took one back, and it's time to move forward again. We have said to ourselves: 'This is unacceptable.'

"We have got to eliminate those individual errors at key moments in the game. The ultimate responsibility is the coach's. I accept that, but the team is very tight and the club has been very supportive."

Northampton must try and stop the run today without the England internationals Steve Thompson and Ben Cohen against a London Irish side who have won on their previous two visits to Franklin's Gardens.

Despite the Saints' struggles, London Irish will be careful not to underestimate a side including the dynamic New Zealand full-back Bruce Reihana.

"We have always had a good record at Northampton but you can't go thinking you will just turn up and win because they have not been playing too well," said the London Irish centre Mark Mapletoft.

"Northampton did well against Llanelli two weeks ago and they are always formidable at home. For me Bruce Reihana is the best player in the league. He's on form at the moment. He has pace and he makes the right decisions.

"He isn't just a full-back who goes for the outside - he's a strong runner who can take it on anywhere. We will need to keep a close eye on him."

Mapletoft will continue in the centre against Northampton, with Mike Catt again at fly-half, while the newly arrived South African hooker James van der Walt is on the bench with the 21-year-old David Paice set for his first start.

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