Two Owen Williams penalties at the death of yesterday’s local derby with Leicester Tigers saw Saints lose out on a win at the Gardens in a frustratingly tight game.
Jim Mallinder said that while Saints played some good attacking rugby, the slips in discipline were what ultimately cost them and that small margins are instrumental in games like that.
“It would have been really important to have got Christian Day’s score but it wasn’t to be,” Mallinder commented to BBC Northampton after the game.
“We’ll look back, there were a few key incidents to look at. Our discipline let us down on occasions, we need to look at some of those scrums because we got heavily penalised there.
“And a penalty with a few minutes to go allows them to kick the goal and suddenly you’re more than three points down. If we weren’t when we got that penalty at the end, we could have taken the points to win it. It’s very, very small, tight margins.”
With Saints’ international played coming back into the squad this weekend after a tough few weeks of Six Nations rugby, Mallinder said that he was impressed with how well they had settled in and was, more importantly, pleased with their performances against Leicester.
“Louis was absolutely outstanding. He’s had a fantastic Six Nations and he’s come back and put in a real class performance out there today.
“It can’t be easy for someone like Dylan, who’s been leading England in some big, big games but he’s come back in and like the rest of them played very well.
“I think all the Internationals need a mention though, I was delighted with their attitude this week.
“They’ve come back, they’ve wanted to play and that’s very, very difficult when they’ve been playing international rugby. But they’ve all wanted to come back in and I was thrilled with their performances.”
Now sitting in seventh place in the Aviva Premiership table, Mallinder says that Saints’ focus will turn to securing a place in the top six and European Champions Cup rugby for next season.
“I think realistically now the attention is on a top six finish. I mean we’ll never say never until it’s not possible any more but I think top six is what we’re going to be aiming for.
“It’s going to be competitive and incredibly tough, we’re playing three of the top four, but that’s the Premiership as it is and we won’t give up.
“We’ve got a few days off now which we’ll use well and come back fighting for the rest of the season.
“I think we said earlier on in the season that we were defending well but struggling to attack and score tries and we’ve definitely seen an improvement over the last few months in that.
“We need to keep working on that and tighten up our defence because we conceded too many points today whether that was because of our discipline or through the scoring tries. That’s definitely an area that we need to improve on.”