After two victories at the death in as many weeks, Northampton Saints are building some early-season belief despite not putting their best rugby on the field, according to Director of Rugby Chris Boyd.
The men in Black, Green and Gold edged out London Irish 23-21 on Saturday afternoon in front of a 12,000-strong cinch Stadium at Franklin’s Gardens crowd to maintain their winning start to the new Gallagher Premiership season.
First-half tries for Tom Collins and Matt Proctor saw Saints race into an early lead despite the torrid conditions, but the hosts did not build on their strong start with the Exiles utilising their lineout and maul to good effect to bring them back into the contest.
A late penalty from Dan Biggar – who also charged down a drop-goal attempt from opposite number Paddy Jackson with the clock in the red – was enough to get Saints over the line, after Albert Tuisue was penalised for an off-the-ball incident with Northampton prop Alex Waller.
And despite picking up four points, Boyd was far from happy with his side’s showing, citing the inconsistency which plagued Saints last season.
“After the game, I bumped into Declan [Kidney, London Irish Director of Rugby] and apologised for that performance and the fact we managed to sneak four points,” he said.
“He said ‘you’re too honest a man to say that to me, because I know you’re not sorry at all’ – and I’m not sorry.
“We were given a get-out-of-jail card, so the only good thing really about the game was taking the four points, and the first 15 minutes we were pretty decent.”Chris Boyd, Director of Rugby
“The fact we’ve had three pretty tight games and we’re still kicking at 100 per cent off the tee, for the three guys [Biggar, George Furbank and James Grayson] who have kicked, has helped us out a bit.
“We’ve got a history of being inconsistent and we’re consistently inconsistent. On a different day at a different time, we’d play far better than that and lose, so the fact we can get out of jail here and get our nose in front at Exeter and hold Gloucester out is all helping us to build some sort of belief.
“Really though, it’s not good enough and some of the penalties we gave away were braindead. There will be some guys squirming in their seats when we do our review because we can’t keep allowing other teams to stay in the game.”
Next up for Saints is a trip to the Coventry Building Society Arena to face Wasps next weekend, where Northampton bid to make it four wins from four at the start of a new Premiership season for only the second time.
Boyd added: “The purists among us would like us to be playing our best rugby every week, but this is high-performance sport and we’re three wins from three.
“I’d rather be in that position playing very poorly in patches, than playing magnificent rugby and have lost three on the bounce.
“We’ve just got to find a way to hold onto momentum and territory, and convert it to pressure – and then when we come under pressure, to wrestle it back again.
“We’re on a path to get more bloody-minded around some of that, and three from three to start is evidence of the work we’re doing there, but we know that this weekend against Wasps if we play like we did against Irish, we won’t get the same result.”