By Thomas Branston
England captain Dylan Hartley is targeting a place in the Aviva Premiership top six as the season reaches its final stage.
The 31-year-old believes his side have the quality to achieve their goal, despite Saints suffering a last-gasp defeat at Wasps last weekend and missing out late on against east midlands rivals Leicester Tigers the week before.
However, Saints remain level on points with sixth-placed Harlequins and are just five points behind fourth-placed Leicester Tigers with three games left to play.
Hartley is determined to help his side qualify for next season’s European Champions Cup competition.
He said: “The good thing is we have got a huge carrot dangling in front of us, we have got three games left in the season and, at the moment, a top-six finish is a priority for us.
“We have got all to play for and it’s a good place to be. If we were further down the table, we could just clock off but this is a good place to be, it keeps it competitive and it keeps us working for something.
“It might not be a top-two finish like we would have liked at the start of the year, but we have got something to drive for and that’s top six at the moment.”