Tom Wood admitted his relief at finishing the European Rugby Champions Cup opening weekend with a win over the Scarlets.
Saints started brightly, Ken Pisi finishing off a great set-piece move with just five minutes on the clock. And while Saints went on to dominate the opening quarter they did not get the further scores the balance of play deserved.
Even the move of the game went unrewarded, Luther Burrell having a try scratched off after George North had been seen to be a little too vigorous while trying to free himself from Michael Tagicakibau’s grasp in the build-up.
That try, which had seen the Saints go 60 metres and put the ball through half-a-dozen pairs of hands, would have given the hosts a good cushion upon which to build, but instead Scarlets stayed in the contest after what Wood acknowledged was a bit of a body blow.
“We were celebrating what could have been the try of the season, but then it was a bit soul destroying,” the man of the match told SaintsTV. “We thought we had them on the ropes, but they came back into the game, and while we felt we could have been a long way clear credit to Scarlets, they made life difficult for us.”
The Scarlets came to Franklin’s Gardens on the back of a superb start to their Pro 12 campaign, winning five from their opening six matches. And after receiving that boost in the opening half they went on to threaten the hosts repeatedly, going in front after 50 minutes.
However that lead lasted barely three minutes, Alex Waller being driven over, and JJ Hanrahan’s penalty 12 minutes from time gave the Saints a modicum of breathing space they kept until the final whistle.
“We definitely expected a tough fight from the Scarlets,” Wood added. “We thought we had them just before half-time, when we thought we’d got that try and mauled them in the corner. If we could have got that score and put a bit of distance between ourselves then we could have pulled away.
“But it wasn’t like that. They got a lifeline, stuck in the fight, and it was on a knife edge until the end, and we did have our hearts in our mouths a little bit.
“We’re relieved to get away with it and get a win in the bank.”
The full interview with Tom Wood is available at www.youtube.com/TheSaintsTV, along with post-match reaction from Alex Waller and Jim Mallinder.
After a trip to Glasgow next weekend in the second round of the European Rugby Champions Cup the Saints are back in action at Franklin’s Gardens on Friday, November 27th, when Gloucester come to town in the Aviva Premiership. Get your tickets now for the Cherry and White Friday Night Lights at www.tinyurl.com/SAI-GLO-1516 and use [email protected] to beat the match day queues and save the admin fees!