Tom Wood admits Saturday’s defeat at Racing Metro felt ‘like the end of the world’ - but has urged his team-mates to bounce back quickly by beating Ospreys this weekend.
Saints suffered a gut-wrenching 20-11 reverse against Pool 5 rivals Racing at Stade Yves du Manoir, with a late try and conversion costing them the consolation of a losing bonus point.
That put the Top 14 giants in the ascendancy in the bid to progress, with Ospreys, who thrashed Treviso 42-7, also enjoying an opening-day victory.
Saints now know they must see off the Welsh side at Franklin’s Gardens on Saturday - and Wood expects his team to come out fighting.
“We said in the dressing room that it felt like the end of the world because we came away from home, put a lot of effort in and come away with nothing,” said the England star.
“But we’ve got to dust ourselves down and if we can pick up wins and potentially bonus points at times, we’re still in the competition.
“We’ve got to win that next five games and give ourselves a chance. We’re not going to lie down, but we’ve given ourselves a mountain to climb.
“It would have been nice to come away on opening day and win on French soil, but we’ll have to do it the hard way now and we’ll be doing our best to try to do that.”
Saints’ disappointment at the Racing defeat was compounded by a hamstring injury to George Pisi, who hit the ground after dropping the ball when heading for the line.
It was a harsh blow for the Samoan centre and his side, but Wood does not feel that incident, which occurred with Saints 10-6 down, was the key reason for the defeat.
“As soon as George gets that ball in his hands you expect him to score every time and it’s cruel luck, but we still had time on the clock to go and win that game,” he said.
“We still did a lot of things well, but to some extent it’s a different sport in this competition. Playing away from home, in France, it’s a completely different approach to the game.
“In all honesty, I don’t know what we could have done differently at maul time.
“There were some things going on that you can’t account for and if you try to police yourself you end in the sin bin yourself.
“I don’t know what the answer is, but you keep going and keep hoping for the best.”