Saints are ‘really serious’ about Europe this season, says Ribbans

Europe

David Ribbans says Saints are not just in Europe to make up the numbers this season.

Instead, he is desperate for them to take their chance and qualify for the Champions Cup quarter-finals during the next two weeks.

Despite losing both of their games to Leinster during December without taking a point, Saints are still in a promising position to reach the last eight.

They are currently in the running for a best runners-up spot, alongside the likes of Glasgow Warriors and Gloucester.

And ahead of Sunday’s game against Italian side Benetton at Franklin’s Gardens, influential lock Ribbans said: “It’s fantastic to play in this competition but we don’t just want to play in it, we want to compete.

“We’re really serious about it.

“We don’t just want to turn up and be happy to be in the top league of Europe – we want to compete here.

“The boys are really keen to make that quarter-final and we know it starts this weekend.

“We have to win this weekend.”

Saints squeezed past Benetton in Treviso back in November, earning a 35-32 success thanks to Dan Biggar’s last-gasp penalty.

Chris Boyd’s side had to come back from 25-8 down in that game at Stadio Comunale di Monigo.

And RIbbans said: “I obviously wasn’t involved the last time we played them away but we’ve looked at all the reviews and spoken about how they tried to bully us up front.

“Their maul was very powerful, they’re a good scrummaging pack and we can expect something similar this weekend.

“They will want to come here with one-out runners, big boys and they will definitely want to be more physical than us and run over us.

“We’ve come up with a few game plans to hopefully outdo them and we’re looking forward to it.

“We’ve still got a massive chance to make the quarter-finals so that’s really exciting and if we lose this game it means we’re out so it’s all on this really.”

Ribbans did watch Saints’ win against Benetton in Italy, though he didn’t totally enjoy the experience.

“I did watch it and I’m not the best at it,” he said.

“It is tough to be watching the games when you really want to be involved and that was one of those games you pull your hair out while watching it.

“It’s tough when you’re watching from the sidelines but from chatting to the guys about it, Benetton are a really good side.

“I don’t know whether it was us underestimating them or we got a couple of our plays wrong, but we didn’t play to Saints’ standard.

“There were a few harsh words after that weekend and they will come here with a similar mentality.

“They did that to us on their patch and they will want to come here and do the same so it’s going to be a big game.

“The four points aren’t just going to happen.”

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