Northampton Saints captain Lewis Ludlam insisted his side will use the memory of their Gallagher Premiership semi-final exit to fuel their fire next season.
The men in Black, Green and Gold were beaten 27-14 by East Midlands rivals Leicester Tigers on Saturday afternoon at Mattioli Woods Welford Road.
Saints enjoyed the lion’s share of chances, particularly in the opening 40 minutes, but went in at half-time deadlocked at 6-6.
Despite leading 14-13 just before the hour mark, Northampton saw their hopes of winning a league title fade as Tigers pulled away in the closing stages, and Ludlam – who has now entered the England camp to prepare for next weekend’s match against the Barbarians – admitted the painful defeat will live long in the memory.
“It’s a tough pill to swallow really and you can’t really put it into words,” he said. “They were the better team on the day, unfortunately.
“We can be proud of this group, and the way we’ve behaved in the past few months has been fantastic, and I couldn’t be prouder of the boys.”Lewis Ludlam
“We wanted to be play again this week but it wasn’t to be I suppose. The tough thing is that we had the chances and we just didn’t finish them off.
“When you get to the top end of the game, in knockout rugby, that’s the difference – they took their chances and we didn’t take ours.
“It’s back to the drawing board for us. We’ll use this result as fire and motivation for next year.
“There’s a lot of lads leaving but this group isn’t done; we’ve just got to use this as fuel. We’ll come back next season, use this and get better.”