After having conceded a try with just four minutes on the clock, Saints fought their way back into the contest against a heavyweight Racing outfit. Stephen Myler kicked a pair of penalties to keep the team in touch, and growing pressure in the final quarter was rewarded when Phil Dowson finished off a move in the corner.
Saints had had their chances up to that point - George Pisi having a try spoiled by a hamstring going a couple of metres short, and for some reason a penalty try not being awarded despite Brian Mujati being yellow carded for pulling down a maul close to the Racing line - but at the crucial moment Myler’s reliability from the tee failed him in a kick that would have tied things up.
To their credit, Saints were not content with a losing bonus point, instead trying to run the ball from deep in search of what would have been a winning score. But it backfired when Ben Foden’s grubber rebounded to Marc Andreu for the try that sealed the match.
And Hartley acknowledged that this had been an opportunity missed.
“We didn’t get into our groove tonight,” he told SaintsTV. “We showed some phases where we played good Saints rugby, but overall it was a different level, a different competition and a different style of rugby.
“We didn’t do the things we set out to do, and fair play to Racing. They played territory very well and took their opportunities.
“Up front there was a mixed bag in terms of results, especially at scrum time, but what we did do was get back into the game in the last 10 minutes, and on another day that Stephen Myler kick goes over. But on another day that Ben Foden kick doesn’t get charged down either.
“It was frustrating not to take anything from it, so we’re going to have to step it up next week at home.”
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