Northampton Saints skipper Alex Waller called on the men in Black, Green and Gold to show plenty of character this week to turn their fortunes around after a maddening display against Gloucester.
Chris Boyd’s side went down to a 7-31 reverse against the Cherry & Whites with a display totally out of character from a team challenging for the Gallagher Premiership’s knock-out stages.
Indeed, a victory on Saturday would have been enough to temporarily lift Saints into the top four – but with the weekend ending with victories for Bristol Bears, Exeter Chiefs, Sale Sharks and Harlequins, the defeat put a big dent in Northampton’s title aspirations.
“It’s completely unacceptable from us. I said that after the game to the boys, and we all acknowledge that,” said Waller.
“The week coming into the game was pretty good, but we didn’t get out of first gear which is really disappointing because it could have set us up nicely for the run-in.
“There’s plenty to work on this week. We’re not out of the race by any stretch, we’ve made it hard for ourselves though.”Alex Waller
“It was bad in every aspect; in a game you can almost afford to carry one aspect not going as well as you’d like, but as soon as it starts multiplying you’re in trouble.
“There’s not any merit in ignoring it – there’s plenty of lessons to learn and there’s no point hiding from the fact that we were abysmal from start to finish.
“There are a few honest conversations to be had this week coming and we’ll look at it. It wasn’t expected and not the way we want to perform at all.”
Saints now prepare to head to Kingston Park to face Newcastle Falcons next Monday evening, with the clash in the North East the first Gallagher Premiership match to be played with supporters back in the stands.
Waller knows only a win will do for his side, if they are to keep their top-four aspirations alive for this season.
The loosehead prop added: “Unless something drastic happens with any of the other teams, we know we’ve got to win all our games.
“It’s not unachievable by any stretch, but if we play like we did against Gloucester there’s no chance.
“We want to be top four and we want to compete for the Premiership, so the target is to go four from four. There’s no point moping around.”Alex Waller
“I sulked on the evening of the game, but now it’s about moving on and thinking about what I can do to help the lads.
“The buck stops with me in terms of leadership, and there’s no point looking backwards when we’ve got another game to prepare for.”