Saints boss Jim Mallinder says he couldn’t ask any more from his players after they slipped to a gut-wrenching 17-16 defeat to Saracens.
Northampton were the width of a crossbar away from victory at stadium:mk as Stephen Myler’s kick in the final play of the game rebounded off the upright,
It was agony for Saints, who had come back from 11-0 down to lead 16-11 with just 15 minutes to go.
But replacement Owen Farrell’s two quick penalties proved enough to give Saracens the victory, leaving Mallinder’s men sixth in the Aviva Premiership standings.
“The lads gave everything,” said the Saints boss. “It was a tremendous effort from the lads and I’m really proud of their performance. You can’t ask for more than that.
“It was two really good sides, very close, came down to the wire, we just didn’t quite get the bounce of the ball, but we won’t give up. We’ll be back.”
Saints were furious at the award of Farrell’s match-winning kick, with full-back Ben Foden expressing his emotions on the pitch.
And Mallinder admits he did find referee JP Doyle’s decision-making slightly inconsistent at times.
“I’ve already had a little look at those (decisions) on replay and the majority of those early on were probably just, but the referee has got to be consistent,” he said.
“If he’s going to do Dylan Hartley for going off his feet, he’s got to do (Brad) Barritt at the end of the game as well. It’s the same offence.”
But Mallinder also made it clear that the defeat was not just down to the referee.
He added: “Saracens are a good side and they’ve got that ability to win tight matches.
“For us we’ll look at that final 10, 15 minutes that’s always crucial in big games and the decision-making by us.
“Of course we’ll look at some of the refereeing decisions as well and that’s the difference between winning and losing.”