Chris Boyd targets Gallagher Premiership final spot for Northampton

Chris Boyd - targeted final spot
Chris Boyd - targeted final spot

Northampton have already surpassed Chris Boyd's expectations this season but the director of rugby is still plotting an appearance in the Gallagher Premiership final.

Saints make their first play-off appearance since 2015 when they travel to Sandy Park to face Exeter, who finished the regular season eight points clear at the summit of the table.

The rivals clashed seven days earlier when the Chiefs finished comprehensive 41-20 winners and Northampton have few backers in their quest to prevent the expected Saracens v Exeter showpiece from taking place on Saturday week.

Boyd's debut season in the Premiership has been a success, but the former Hurricanes coach wants it to last one more week.

"For us to make the top six was a pass mark. To make the top four, albeit by the skin of our teeth, equates to a very good season," the Kiwi told Press Association Sport.

"Whatever happens against Exeter, we can reflect on some pretty decent progress without the cream on top.

"If you go into a game like this with an attitude of having nothing to lose then you won't put your heart and soul into it. We have to go there with a determination to still be training next week.

"If we give it our best shot and can be happy with our performance, even if we finish on the wrong side of the score, then I'm happy with that. But we certainly want to go there and finish in credit.

"We know it's a massive ask. Exeter are red-hot favourites and so they should be, they deservedly finished top of the league.

"They're a very good side, but that doesn't mean they're unbeatable. If we can get close to 100 per cent we have a shot, but we'll have to be very good."

The task of trying to prevent European champions Saracens from closing in on the double falls to Gloucester, who have comfortably been the league's third best team.

The terrific form of 2019 double award winner Danny Cipriani has underpinned their success, but so too has a rugged pack populated with South Africans and which relies on former England number eight Ben Morgan for ball-carrying momentum.

"I don't think we're a team that lacks confidence, although we don't scream and shout about it," Morgan said.

"The whole mantra is play to inspire and if you can go out there and do one thing and someone takes a positive light on what you're doing that's a win regardless of the result.

"We know what we're up against, but there's a lot of belief in this group. We trust our plan, we trust our system and we trust the work we've put in throughout the year to get to this point.

"We play all season to give ourselves a shot at winning the league, and ultimately it comes down to two shoot-outs.

"It's everything for us as a team, and obviously personally it's everything I want to do. I want to be part of a Premiership-winning side."

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