Exeter Chiefs boss Rob Baxter says his side weren’t far off beating Saints on Saturday – but conceded the opposition were deserved winners.
Northampton recorded a 30-19 victory at Sandy Park, thanks to tries from Ken Pisi, Soane Tonga’uiha and GJ van Velze and six successful kicks from Stephen Myler.
The Chiefs struggled to break down the Saints backline, and only had one try to celebrate as Sireli Naqelevuki went over during the second half.
And Baxter felt his men main crime was the failure to turn possession into points in the Premiership clash.
He said: “I don’t think we were far off winning the game.
“It wouldn’t have taken any more physical endeavour from us, it would have just taken a little more mental sharpness and a little better control of certain parts of the game.
“You are always disappointed when you lose a game but the bigger disappointment was that we were in it for large parts but I am not sure that we appreciated the pressure that we probably had on Northampton for large periods of the game.”
After going 3-0 down early on through Gareth Steenson’s successful penalty, Saints fought back and were not behind again at any stage after Pisi’s 17th-minute score.
And Baxter knows there is plenty for his team still to work on as they aim to challenge for a top four spot this season.
“Northampton had a three or four-point lead on a number of occasions with plenty of time on the clock,” he said.
“We were the team that was playing and being able to control possession for periods but we almost played until we made the error.
“What we are striving for is being able to flick that switch from being that team that wants to attack, wants to be ambitious, hunting to keep possession and breakdown the opposition but also looks up and sees that there is a decision to be made and makes the right one.
“That has always been the battle for us since we came in to the Premiership.
“Becoming that complete side is what it is all about and I just think that Northampton did better than us in this game.”