They may have seen off bitter rivals Leicester Tigers 47-20 on Saturday afternoon, but attack coach Sam Vesty insists Northampton Saints still have plenty to work on in the coming weeks.
The men in Black, Green and Gold booked their places in the semi-finals of the Premiership Rugby Cup after they racked up their largest margin of a victory in an East Midlands derby since 1999 at Franklin’s Gardens.
“We’re happy with the result but there’s plenty for us to get better at.”Sam Vesty
Tries from James Grayson, James Fish and Dom Barrow gave Saints a 19-10 lead at half-time, before Heinrich Brüssow secured the bonus-point.
While a score from Tom Collins and Cobus Reinach’s double in the last ten minutes extended the margin of victory for Northampton, Vesty was adamant that the performance did not hit the side’s usual standards.
“We were pretty sloppy, and probably didn’t quite get up to our standards on lots of things – but at the end of the day, we knew we would be very happy to get five points out of the game and secure ourselves a semi-final,” he said.
“Hopefully we have racked up enough points to give ourselves a chance of getting a semi-final at Franklin’s Gardens as well.
“Tigers defended well, got in our faces and we didn’t do our basics well enough, consistently enough to keep the dominance.
“We’re happy with the result but there’s plenty for us to get better at out of that performance.”
Saints will have to wait to find out who they face in the final four of the competition, but stand an excellent chance of securing a home semi-final after improving their points difference against Leicester.
And Vesty was impressed with Northampton’s doggedness in defence throughout the game, particularly early in the second half when the side came under some pressure on their own line, before winning a vital scrum penalty to clear.
He added: “To hold out on our line shows some good resolve and that was awesome to dig in there and get out of it, because we were under the pump at that stage.
“To get out of that point of the game without conceding was massive because it could have been a real close affair going if we had conceded at that point.
“It was good to see some of the guys make a comeback from injury; Nafi Tuitavake and Ken Pisi started, while James Haskell got a good 20 minutes off the bench and was typically abrasive.
“Cobus’ double saw us pull away and he was very, very sharp as ever. He is fast, as well as being such a strong man, so any opportunity like the one he got at the end of the game and he is gone – we’ve seen it plenty of times this year already.”