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Ludlam: Saints can’t let frustrations get in the way of converting chances

Captain Lewis Ludlam insists Northampton Saints have to be more clinical in the opposition's 22, following their 34-19 loss at Gloucester on Saturday. 

While a lack of discipline was a major issue in preventing Saints from overturning a 21-12 half-time deficit at Kingsholm, their profligacy in attack was a big reason why they found themselves behind in the first place. 

Phil Dowson’s side opened up the Cherry and Whites on a number of occasions in the first half, in particular, and probably should have had more to show than Tommy Freeman’s quickfire double at the midway point of the opening 40 minutes. 

In contrast, Gloucester hardly left a point out on the field as they opened up a lead, with Saints continuing to cough up chances as they chased the game in the second half. 

Ludlam said: “We wanted to come down here and get a result, especially with the internationals back in. 

“It really felt like we had enough opportunities there to get the result. Unfortunately, we didn’t convert enough of them, so a frustrating day. 

“It’s just important that, as a team, we don’t get frustrated with what we’re doing, we don’t go away from it. 

“We just tweak a few little bits of our game and we’ll be better next week, and then there will be things to work on again and the following week will be better. 

“But we can’t change or get frustrated with what we’re doing because it’s giving us opportunities. We just need to start converting them.”

Lewis Ludlam

Ludlam also gave credit to Gloucester’s performance, after they were inspired by Argentina international Santiago Carreras, who was standing in at fly-half instead of his usual position for his club in the back three. 

He was one of the Cherry and Whites’ four try scorers as Saints’ defence struggled to get to grips with their hosts when out of possession. 

Ludlam said: “They came with a slightly different game plan to what we were expecting – we expected more mauls, we expected them to keep it in longer. 

“I felt we dealt with their maul really well, but what they were very good at was adapting and playing away from it. 

“When they did, we weren’t quick enough to wrestle that momentum back and put their ball-carriers back on the back foot and give us the best chance of defending again. 

“It’s frustrating. We did what we said, mostly, but we need to be better at hitting people backwards.” 

Ludlam is fully aware Saints will need to be much improved for their opening Heineken Champions Cup fixture of the season when they travel to south-west France to face defending champions La Rochelle on Saturday. 

He is, however, relishing what should be a titanic contest, saying: “It’s a change of focus. It is a perfect challenge for us.  

“There is obviously a lot of frustration this week, being back in the Premiership, but we’ve got a new competition, a new challenge. 

“I think everyone on the outside will probably deem us as underdogs, with them winning it last year.  

“However, it’s a challenge I think the squad are really excited for and it’s something we can really get our teeth into.”

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