Expectant Neil Back wants his Leeds Carnegie side to continue displaying the “Yorkshire grit” which could yet maintain their Aviva Premiership status.
On the back of last week’s morale-boosting success over London Irish, they have a magnificent chance to build further today when they entertain struggling Northampton, a side with the worst current run of results in the competition.
The Saints may have a place in the elite Heineken Cup quarter-finals but they are attempting to avoid a seventh successive league defeat when they arrive at Headingley Carnegie this afternoon.
Leeds are without the influential Marco Wentzel after he departed against the Irish with a calf problem, so Scott Barrow takes over as captain while Lachlan Mackay is injured once more and hooker Steve Thompson is still away on England duty tomorrow.
But Back – whose side remain seven points adrift of Newcastle at the foot of the division – does have powerhouse Hendre Fourie available and insisted: “We demonstrated that we have leaders on Sunday when we were without Lachlan Mackay and Marco after 20 minutes.
“We fought back through good leadership, decision-making and grit.
“People talk about Yorkshire grit and we showed that in spades at the weekend.
“We’ve got to do that another seven times this year and if we do, we’ll give ourselves a chance.
“If we can keep improving week-on-week, we need to be near our best individually and collectively to be able to beat the best teams.”
Northampton, on their worst run in the Premiership since they were relegated almost six years ago, will also be without their England quartet of Chris Ashton, Ben Foden, Dylan Hartley and Courtney Lawes to further boost Leeds’s hopes of recording their first back-to-back wins this term.
Saints leaked 27 unanswered second-half points in defeat against Exeter last week as a clear sign of the malaise which has descended upon them.
Meanwhile, Back has hailed the contribution so far of Leeds pair Luther Burrell and Kearnan Myall who are set to leave in the summer.
“Players come and go, so it is about how you want to be remembered by your fellow players and management,” he said. “If someone moves on, I will never have a go at them as that’s their decision. But if they are here, they need to give everything to the organisation, the players and management that have given them the chance to move on. But the two main guys who are moving on, Luther scored last week and Kearnan was outstanding again, which showed their commitment.”