Api Ratuniyarawa insists that it was Northampton Saints’ ability to stick to their processes that secured Friday night’s narrow victory over Harlequins.
Saints ran out 32-31 winners in front of a raucous crowd at cinch Stadium at Franklin’s Gardens – with Chris Boyd’s side keeping their play-off hopes well and truly alive with the nail-biter of a win.
The 35-year-old lock featured in all 80 minutes of the clash with Quins and credited his teammates’ willingness to pull together and work hard for each other for Saints reaching the full-time whistle ahead on the scoreboard.
“We had to really come hard in that second half,” Ratuniyarawa said. “We had to stay composed at the end and play into our own system. To finally get the win at the end really shows what this group is about.
“We really stuck together in the end and kept working together, and we knew that the result would come.”
Just under 15,000 people piled into the Gardens on Friday with the hopes of seeing Saints keep up their push for the top four, and were rewarded as Northampton sent Tommy Freeman, Lewis Ludlam, George Furbank and Alex Waller over for the bonus point before half-time.
Injuries mounted for the hosts before and after the break, though, and Quins came back in the second half to overturn the deficit and lead heading to the game’s dying minutes. But two late penalties from James Grayson’s boot sent the Gardens into raptures and saw Saints snatch the narrowest of wins.
Ratuniyarawa added: “It was hugely exciting. To get in front of a packed Franklin’s Gardens was enormous for us.
“The noise from the crowd really lifted up the boys. In that second half, we could have let the game slip, but we knew we had to stick together, stay consistent and just keep building. We knew that something was going to come, a penalty or a try was going to come.
“The boys dug in and didn’t give up, and neither did [the crowd]. To come away with the win today was a really good feeling.”Api Ratuniyarawa
The lock continued: “We knew Quins were going to come here and play to a quick tempo game, the same as us. When we’ve got the ball we want to put our game onto the pitch and your saw that on Friday.
“And that’s the big positive for us from the game, that we didn’t give up. We stuck together, kept hold of the ball and ended up with an opportunity for [James] Grayson. He said straight away ‘I will kick this’ and we were obviously really happy to see it go over.
“For us this season, closing out those kind of games was something that we didn’t do that well. Especially in the big games, like at Exeter and Sale at home – we took the lead in those and then let them come back.
“But I think we’ve really learned from those games and that showed against Quins, the composure from the boys in the tough times to stick to the game plan.
“I’m sure everyone in the stands thought it was an exciting game but being a part of it, it took a bit of a toll on the lungs. We’re obviously frustrated not to have a game for the next two weeks but hopefully we can use it to refresh a bit before we look ahead to Saracens.
“We’ve just got to keep moving now, we want to be vying for that top four position.”