Director of Rugby Chris Boyd admits Northampton Saints were made to rue not carrying a ruthless first-half performance over into the second 40, after Bath secured a 22-23 comeback win at Franklin’s Gardens on Sunday afternoon.
A double from scrum-half Tom James before Tommy Freeman’s first Saints score had opened up a 19-3 lead at one point before half-time.
However, Bath narrowed the gap to 19-10 with the last play of the half through Zach Mercer, while another score from the No.8 plus a flawless display from the tee by Rhys Priestland saw the visitors over the line following the break.
Saints had opportunities to score their fourth try and retake the lead, notably when Taqele Naiyaravoro was miraculously chopped down by Ben Spencer just short of the line after a scintillating break from deep.
Both James and wing Matt Proctor were also held up over the line, while Lewis Ludlam had a further score ruled out by the TMO. A late scrum penalty against Saints – who had the upper hand in that area all match – five metres from the line also offered Bath a reprieve.
The inability to seize these opportunities was crucial in deciding the match outcome, according to Boyd, who also conceded that allowing the visitors back into the game on the stroke of half-time was another important moment.
“Certainly, the try before have time was crucial,” he said. “A scoreline of 19-3 would have been slightly different to 19-10.
“At the end of the day, even at 19-10 we created plenty of chances but weren’t ruthless enough to finish it off. It was a pretty soft second-half performance, and we paid the price.
“We weren’t clinical enough in finishing stuff off, so 19-3 ended up not being enough, but we knew that it wouldn’t be.”Chris Boyd, Director of Rugby
“It’s a combination of a whole bunch of things. We weren’t accurate in our decision making, weren’t accurate in our execution and weren’t ruthless enough when we got that pressure to convert it to points.
“We still had plenty of opportunities to win that game even in the last ten minutes. We’ll have to go back and look at the tape and see where we got it wrong.
“It’ll be a different side playing Harlequins, so they have different challenges and we’ll have to reset quickly and go again.”