Director of rugby Jim Mallinder was disappointed by the way the result went at Welford Road, but was nevertheless proud of the character shown by the Saints squad as they fought back to get within touching distance of a memorable result.
Saints conceded three early tries, but fought back to tie things up at 27-all with a handful of minutes to play, only for Freddie Burns to break hearts with his last-minute penalty.
So while Mallinder acknowledged that the opening 20 minutes were far from ideal - “we didn’t get off the bus” - he was proud of the way the team responded, especially the young, English players.
“We felt disappointment because we’ve lost,” he told SaintsTV, ‘and Leicester have four points which push them a little bit away from us in the table.
“But there’s pride, too, in the performance of a lot of the players. We’ve still got a number of players out and the younger players are coming through and they’re playing well. Paul Hill’s a good example, and Mikey Haywood and Teimana Harrison, too, and we had 20 English qualified players out there, which is very good for us.”
Hill was at the heart of the game’s most controversial moment, the prop having what would have been a memorable try ruled out by a call on a high tackle that was marginal at best.
That score would have put Saints in front for the first time with a quarter of the game remaining, but instead of going ahead the visitors instead quickly found themselves 10 points down, a margin which would ultimately prove crucial.
“There were clearly some close calls by the referee, and it was a massive decision when we were four points down and would have gone in front,” Mallinder added. “It was a marginal call and could have gone either way. Unfortunately for us it didn’t go our way.
“To be 21 points down is not where you want to be. But we came back into the game, and it was good to score just before half-time. That gave us a little bit of belief and we had a very good second half performance. We put them under pressure, attacked well, and took our chances.”
The Saints now turn their attention to the European Rugby Champions Cup, and a crunch game against Glasgow which will define both clubs’ campaigns. Tickets remain available at www.tinyurl.com/SAI-GLA-1516, where by using [email protected] supporters can save themselves the admin fees and beat the match day queues.