Northampton coach Paul Grayson admits his side will have to raise their game two or three notches to make it a contest against London Wasps in the Heineken Cup semi-final at Coventry’s Ricoh Stadium on Sunday.
The pair met last weekend in the Guinness Premiership with Wasps winning, though the Saints came close to springing a surprise.
Of course Northampton reached this stage of the competition by pulling off the biggest shock so far with a win in San Sebastian against previously unbeaten Biarritz, so they will be trying to repeat the performance on Sunday.
“We are not too bothered about the odds – we were massive underdogs in Biarritz and we are underdogs on Sunday but hopefully we can give a good account for ourselves,” said Grayson.
.. “That result in Biarritz has been coming. I know it was an strange place to do it but our performance levels have gone up and the boys are sticking together. We are really tight as a group at the moment and it is starting to be reflected on the field.
“This is a different encounter. Wasps have got some players to bring in, they rotated their squad last week and ultimately got what they wanted out of the game even though we gave them a fright.
“They are a confident team and will expect to win. We need to raise our game another two or three levels to make it a contest but hopefully we can do that.”
The Saints are still bottom of the Premiership, but despite the pressures of trying to preserve their status in the top flight they will put everything they have into trying to reach the Heineken Cup final.
“We are fully committed to throwing everything into it, we will be holding nothing back and it is going to be an exciting afternoon,” admitted Grayson.
“Everyone dreams at the beginning of the season and when the pool was drawn we knew we had a good chance of qualifying.
“Domestic form has meant that it seemed more unlikely that we should be where we are and then coming eighth and having to go to Biarritz. There might have been one or two clever bet put on us, but more in hope than anything else because no-one expected us to win.”
Grayson was the Northampton outside half when current Wasps director of rugby Ian McGeechan was in charge there and the former pupil is hoping to show he has learned a few tricks.
“Geech is a wily old fox and they will have one or two surprises for the weekend, but maybe we can spring one or two as well,” said Grayson.