Lee Dickson: Northampton have a different mindset and a different attitude now
Northampton captain Lee Dickson says a change in mentality has sparked their attack into life after making it eight tries in two games with their 35-7 win over London Irish.
The 2014 champions have had a stuttering first half of the season, with their attack failing to fire as they suffered six defeats in their opening 10 games, including a surprise loss at Irish.
But it is a different-looking Saints side now with their attack flowing much more like it did during their title-winning season and when they stormed to first place in the Aviva Premiership last term.
Tries from James Craig, Alex Waller, Dickson and Jamie Elliott, plus a penalty try, saw off London Irish and Dickson's score - an 80m team effort involving backs and forwards - typified Saints' new ambition.
Dickson said: "We have a different mindset and a different attitude now.
"Over the last two weeks we have shown some sparks, we have put a performance in today and we have played some exciting rugby. We scored some phenomenal tries today, it is still a work in progress, but we are building some blocks leading to some important games coming up."
Dickson feels the introduction of 19-year-old Harry Mallinder, son of director of rugby Jim Mallinder, at inside centre with his kicking and passing ability has proved pivotal.
"Teams know what we are about and that we like to box-kick and kick from (Stephen) Myler," said Dickson.
"But having Harry next to Myler has helped him. Myler can control the game and doesn't need to worry about kicking the ball all the time.
"Our mentality now is to have a crack. We have talked about getting the ball into our wingers' hands and letting them kick, because when you have eight forwards around the ball when you do a box-kick, if it doesn't go right you have got eight people in the middle of nowhere.
"Whereas if you get the ball out wide and they kick we have got everyone on their feet running down the pitch. We have the ambition and the attitude to attack well but also to defend well."
London Irish head coach Tom Coventry admitted his side were a distant second best and felt the sin-binning of Halani Aulika after 12 minutes was crucial, with Saints scoring 14 points in his 10 minutes on the sidelines.
"I thought we were pretty poor today," said Coventry. "A little bit of ill-discipline from Halani cost us and they took those two tries pretty well."
Irish had to wait until three minutes from time to make any impression on the scoreboard, with David Paice going over for a try that was converted by Shane Geraghty.
Coventry added: "It sums up where we are at the moment; we are not taking our opportunities to score when we are in vital parts of the field and maintaining pressure on the opposition is not something we have been able to do regularly.
"There is a lack of confidence in our game at the moment, and in front of a big crowd against a Saints side with a chip on their shoulders after losing at our place, we needed to be perfect today."