Club co-captain Lewis Ludlam insists Northampton Saints still have plenty to fight for with three Gallagher Premiership matches remaining this term.
The men in Black, Green and Gold can mathematically still reach the knockout stages of the competition, but after Monday evening’s reverse away at Newcastle Falcons, sit 11 points off fourth with just three league matches remaining.
Saints will have to rely on the sides above them having a massive downturn in fortunes, but with pride still very much on the line for the rest of the campaign, skipper Ludlam is adamant his side will be fired up heading into back-to-back fixtures at Franklin’s Gardens with a home crowd finally set to be welcomed back to the ground.
“It’s disappointing because we want to be a top-four side but performances like the last two weeks aren’t good enough,” he said.
“It’s been a long season but everyone’s in the same boat and we still feel like we’re fighting for something, so it’s no excuse for not playing as well as we can.
“We’ve got to pick ourselves up now because the season’s not over – it might look over to some people, but we’re still fighting and we’ve got to learn our lessons and take those into two weeks’ time against Wasps.”Lewis Ludlam
“We’re absolutely looking forward to getting back playing in front of some of our own supporters. We’ve let them down again against Newcastle, for the second week in a row, so we’ve got to put in performances the next two matches for them.
“The effort was definitely there, but the accuracy wasn’t, and we weren’t playing in the right areas of the pitch – so we’re going to work hard and hopefully give some people something to smile about at Franklin’s Gardens.”
Paul Hill’s try looked to have set Saints on course for victory at Kingston Park, but two scores from Adam Radwan and Chidera Obonna turned the tide for the hosts.
Ludlam was excellent again in defeat for Northampton, racking up tackles and carries in a typically abrasive performance, but the flanker admitted Saints were not up to scratch in the crucial breakdown battle
He added: “We’re all feeling very raw and are hurting. We didn’t put our game on Falcons at all, and we didn’t get the breakdown right – which is fundamental.
“They came very hard at us there and we weren’t quick or brutal enough to clear them out. Against a team like Newcastle, playing away from home and with their crowd right behind them, you know they are going to punish you if you do that.
“We absorbed a lot of pressure but to be honest, all that defending on our own line is the easy bit because it’s a choice to stand up and put your body on the line.
“The hard bit is being accurate and switched on in the moment, and that’s the part we didn’t really get right. Credit to them, they played in the right areas of the pitch and put us under pressure, but we weren’t good enough.”