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Northampton at Premiership summit as Chris Boyd gets young guns firing | Sport

Chris Boyd hesitates to describe the way Northampton are playing as a transformation but anyone who watched the decline of the previous regime might wonder who this latest team strutting their stuff at Franklin’s Gardens are.

This is the New Zealander’s second season in charge. After a 36-13 demolition of Leicester on Saturday, which could easily have been worse for the Tigers, Boyd paused to explain how he has coaxed such form from the Saints.

“Most people can execute skills,” he said, “but we really challenge them to execute with no time and space. So we put them under an extreme pressure in pre-season to try to execute their skills accurately. Some of it looked pretty horrible but you’ve got to allow them to make those mistakes to grow and get better.

“So often the intention around our training sessions is not about being error-free but challenging you to make your skills as good as they can be under pressure. It’s not always going to happen but at the moment it’s going OK.”

The rugby they are playing may be unrecognisable from that of the latter years of Jim Mallinder’s long tenure but many of the players are the same. Others have come through to invigorate the side, either promoted from within, such as Rory Hutchinson and George Furbank, or brought in from elsewhere, such as the rampaging Taqele Naiyaravoro and Boyd’s long-time protege from the Hurricanes Matt Proctor, who scored two tries.

“When I first came here I went out the back field and watched the boys do a bit of stuff with the ball. Two guys stood out like beacons as good with the ball — Rory Hutchinson and George Furbank. We’ve got some guys who can play, which is nice.”

Now Northampton top the table, having scored 20 tries from five games, comfortably the most in the Premiership. On Saturday mighty Leinster, who have meted out some horrible humiliations to Saints in recent years, visit. No one is expecting another, which tells its own story.

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