Director of Rugby Chris Boyd called on his Northampton Saints side to roll their sleeves up and ‘be smarter’ following a frustrating defeat to Harlequins in Big Game 13.
The men in Black, Green and Gold built up a first-half lead thanks to Juarno Augustus’ double and a try for Alex Waller, but were ultimately beaten 41-27 at Twickenham by the defending Gallagher Premiership champions, with a rising penalty count costing the visitors during the second 40 minutes.
Saints remained within a score until the dying moments, but Alex Dombrandt’s last-gasp try denied Northampton a losing bonus point, meaning the Club finishes the calendar year fifth in the league standings.
But Boyd expects more from his side in the coming months and is demanding some improvement if Saints are to find themselves in the running for knockout rugby come the business end of the campaign.
“We’re certainly not happy being fifth at the end of the year,” he said. “We continue our journey.
“We need to be smart, stop being the victim, and get on with rolling our sleeves up and being a little better than that.
“The difference between the team that finishes fourth and the team that finishes eighth or ninth is going to be pretty tight. We just need to accumulate some wins to keep ourselves in the right position.”Chris Boyd, Director of Rugby
Northampton scored their three tries in a helter-skelter first half, in which both sides combined to score 50 points.
And with Saracens set to visit cinch Stadium at Franklin’s Gardens this coming Sunday, Boyd knows Saints will need to improve defensively and with their discipline around the park to return to winning ways against the side sat in second place in the Premiership table.
He added: “The first half against Quins was attack with optional defence. Both sets of coaches would be disappointed with the defence in the first half. It was tit for tat, try after try.
“Whilst that might be a nice spectacle for the general public, it’s not what we want to see as a coaching group.
“We got on the wrong side of the referee and conceded 22 penalties. You can’t give any side that many platforms to launch from. Wayne Barnes is an international referee. He was brutally hard on not rolling away, and we didn’t adapt particularly well to that interpretation.
“We contest the ball hard, as do Harlequins, but they are the least penalised team in the league and we are almost the most, so we’ve got to do better than that.
“Saracens are a different challenge altogether than Harlequins, so we’ll have to play differently. The boys are working really hard and putting their minds to what we’re trying to do – we just need to be a bit more clinical, disciplined and accurate against Saracens, who are the masters of being those things.”