Despite trailing by 13 points at the turn around, Saints posted 14 unanswered points in the second half of Friday night’s dramatic win at the Gardens to bag the last European Champions Cup spot for next season over guests Stade Français.
Try scorer Ben Foden said that while the game was a mixed bag of perofrmances from Saints, the character the side showed to pull together when reduced to 13 men at one stage and rustle up a win was incredible.
“We finally got on the right end of one!” Foden jested to SaintsTV after the match.
“It probably sums up our season really. We've been a mixed bag and we were today. We started quite slowly, poorly and we'd said that we wanted to start fast.
“We knew that they're a French side, if they got into the game and we gave them a sniff they'd make hard work of it for us and that's exactly what they did.
“Obviously we didn't help ourselves with the sin bins and the red card, but you know what that was probably the fire that ignited us and we were able to get the result that we needed. And that was the main thing.
“Maybe we were a bit nervous. But like I said it's what we've been like this whole season. We've been slow at crucial times.
“We said we didn't want to play a loose game and there were times in the first half when we could have been the Harlem Globetrotters the way we were throwing the ball around.
“I think we're most effective when we're direct, when we have a good game plan, when we lean on our set piece, and when we did that we got the tries we needed to win the game.”
Foden commended his teammates in pulling together to scrape the win in the final seconds of the game, giving special mention Man of the Match Courtney Lawes and game-winning Harry Mallinder, who’s 78th minute conversion of Ahsee Tuala’s try put Saints in the lead for the first time in the game and ultimately earned them the win.
“I thought some of the guys put in massive performances tonight.
“Courtney Lawes was outstanding again. Harry Mallinder was so cool under pressure knocking that one over at the end and stepping up.
“And for us to score a try with 14 men after being down to 13 for 10 minutes before that, it shows we've got some calibre.
“They're a good side as well Stade, I don't want to take anything away from them. They're a very dangerous side who showed at times that they could cut us apart in defence.
“That was mainly my fault at times but we'll look to build on it.
“It's where we want to be. We're a top tier side and we want to be in the Champions Cup. We've managed to secure that for next season.
“It's been a disappointing season by our standards, we want to be challenging for silverware, major silverware so we've got a lot to work on.
“We'll regroup over the summer, put in a big preseason and hopefully hit the ground running next year.”
The game playing out in front of a raucous Franklin’s Gardens, where the Franklin’s faithful were in full voice throughout, Foden said that the incredible support shown was what pushed them over the line in the end.
“The support was massive and it helps so much. Definitely in that last ten minutes, especially when we got a sniff of winning the game.
“We always talk about the 16th man, or the 15th man in this case, they can be heard on the pitch for sure.
“It gets the guys wound up, especially in that last two or three minutes when we needed to see out the game.
“You could definitely see the atmosphere lift all the players just to get us across the finishing line.”