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James laments lack of discipline for Saints against Bristol

Northampton Saints scrum-half Tom James admitted his side’s ill-discipline on Saturday afternoon cost the men in Black, Green and Gold dearly against Bristol Bears.

The home side had built themselves a comfortable 19-8 lead inside the first 35 minutes – with Tom Seabrook crossing the whitewash on two occasions, along with flanker Tom Pearson adding a third after 20 minutes.

But a Callum Sheedy penalty and second Magnus Bradbury try in a three-minute spell on the stroke of the interval cut the gap to just a point. Tommy Freeman gave the home side some breathing room with a score just after half-time, but two tries and a penalty from Bristol saw Saints behind for the first time in the contest.

Fin Smith brought the gap down to six with seven minutes to play through a penalty kick, but Phil Dowson’s side could not find a match-winning try and had to settle for two match points.

“We are absolutely devastated with that,” said James. “We were our own worst enemy at times and our discipline wasn’t good enough. You can’t give a side like Bristol so many opportunities in your own half. 

“We didn’t hold onto the ball well enough at times, and there was a period in that second half where we came under the pump and went away from our gameplan a bit, and they took advantage of that.”

The 30-year-old admitted that the lack of discipline at the end of the first half when Saints conceded ten points was a critical turning point in the game.

He said: “That was huge for them. To concede just before half-time like that and let them back in the game, in a half that we felt dominant, was gutting.

“We felt in attack, we were putting our game on the pitch pretty well, making line breaks and when we got into their 22, we were converting it into points.”

Tom James

“It’s a lot of discipline errors in our back end that let them back into it. That’s why it’s so frustrating because if you look at that first half, we felt really dominant, but we haven’t come away with a win.”

There’s no time for Saints to dwell though as they travel to Kingston Park this weekend to face Newcastle Falcons, with both sides looking for their first victory of the Gallagher Premiership season.

“I wouldn’t say pressure is building because we are very confident about our game.” James said.

“There are some discipline errors in there which aren’t easily fixable, but it’s something we can look at and change. So, we’re not feeling the pressure, but we need to go up to Newcastle next week and take out our frustration out on them.”

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