Northampton Saints director of rugby Chris Boyd admits not coming away from Dublin last weekend with a Heineken Champions Cup bonus point to show for their efforts was frustrating for his side.
A 50-21 defeat in Dublin rounded off a challenging fortnight of European action for the men in Black, Green and Gold, with Pro14 champions Leinster Rugby securing back-to-back wins to seize control of Pool One.
The Irish outfit were ruthless in punishing any errors made by Boyd’s charges, although Saints did fire three shots of their own with Dan Biggar, Ollie Sleightholme and Ahsee Tuala all crossing the whitewash for the visitors.
“There were some good performances from some promising youngsters so that was encouraging. I thought we did some really good things.”Chris Boyd
And the Northampton boss revealed that while it was a slight lack of accuracy against a side of Leinster’s ability that cost Saints early on in the clash, not dotting down a fourth score in Dublin was the most disappointing outcome.
“We probably made it a bit too easy for them early on,” said Boyd. “We played without a lot of luck, but when you play against Leinster, if you give them a crumb then they will inevitably turn it into points.
“We had a couple of situations where the ball spilled, and the next thing we knew we were under the posts at the other end.
“There is frustration that we gave three or four really soft tries away but it was a case of, in my mind, a very good Leinster side full of international players playing against a side that was far less experienced.
“Not only were we short of some experienced players but we made the decision to leave players behind that had pretty high workloads in the last month or so as well.
“Certainly, the plan was to secure a bonus point. We didn’t think that winning or losing the game would affect our chances of getting out of the pool, so the bonus point was an objective and coming away with only three tries was, from an outcome point of view, certainly the most disappointing thing.
“There were some good performances from some promising youngsters so that was quite encouraging, but when you put all those young guys together, we’re still a long way off.
“That being said, I thought we actually did some really good things.”
When Tuala crossed for the Saints’ third just before the hour mark, over 20 minutes remained to claim what would have been a valuable bonus-point. Much of that final quarter was spent camped out in the Leinster 22, but another resolute defensive performance from the hosts meant that the all-important fourth score remained elusive.
However Boyd insists two defeats at the hands of Leinster have by no means put to bed any hope of progressing through to the quarter-final stage of the competition, with two clashes against Benetton Rugby and Lyon still to come next month.
He added: “There’s a couple of obvious pools where there are going to be two teams qualifying, and there are probably a few more where the runner-up has got a chance of coming out.
“If we can pick up some good points against Benetton at home and then away to Lyon – which won’t be easy – then I think we’ll still be alive. We’re definitely still in it.”