Northampton Saints director of rugby Jim Mallinder was impressed with the fight of his side despite nearly clutching defeat from the jaws of victory at the death against Worcester Warriors.
Saints were trailing 10-3 early on against the Warriors but five Stephen Myler penalties saw them lead 18-10 with just a two minutes to go.
But the Warriors managed a late try through Bryce Heem and Jamie Shillcock had a penalty from halfway to win the match but his effort drifted wide.
And Mallinder was relieved post-match to come away with the Saints’ fourth win on the bounce in all competitions.
“We shouldn’t really have got to that stage where you’re eight points up with two minutes to go,” he said. “You should close the game out and we need to be better than that.
— Michael Paterson (@pato_mjsp) November 18, 2016
“We were looking comfortable – we went 10-3 down, but then came back into it and I thought we dominated the game.
“It is all about winning. It wasn’t a good start, going 10-3 down, but we really came back into the game, controlled it, put them under pressure, kept building our lead and you thought that at 18-10 up with a couple of minutes to go, we would win the game.
“There were a couple of mistakes, first of all a bit in defence, then a lack of discipline, and it gave them a chance – but fortunately they didn’t take it.”
For Worcester, it was their first Aviva Premiership Rugby defeat at Sixways this season after two draws and victory over Newcastle Falcons.
Thanks for following tonight in what has been another edge-of-the-seat thriller. And to those who made it to Sixways, have a safe one home.
— Worcester Warriors🏉 (@WorcsWarriors) November 18, 2016
And Warriors’ boss Carl Hogg felt it was a three points that got away from his side after they had to settle for a losing bonus point.
“We gave away a lot of penalties, which gave them a foothold in the match,” he explained.
“There were seven shots at goal, six of which were kicked but some of the penalties seemed to be questionable and we’ll have to have a good look at them.
“Every time they had the ball, we gave away penalties but they were very robust and very resilient but ultimately we should have won.
“We had an opportunity to win tonight but we didn’t take it so there’s a sense of frustration as we were good with ball in hand.
“I thought Jamie Shillcock was very accomplished for his first start at 10 in the Premiership while it was great to have Bryce Heem, Ryan Mills and Cooper Vuna back playing.”
— Northampton Saints (@SaintsRugby) November 18, 2016
Worcester Warriors: Pennell; Hammond (Adams 75), Olivier, Mills, Vuna (Heem 55); Shillcock, Arr; Rapava Ruskin (Leleimalefaga 72), Annett (Singleton 59), Schonert (Daniels 72); O’Callaghan (Kitchener 53), Barry; Potgieter, Kirwan, Dowson (c).
Northampton Saints: Foden; Elliott, Burrell, Hutchinson, Wilson (Collins 64); Myler, Dickson (Kessell 22); A Waller (E Waller 64), Haywood (Clare 77), Brookes (Denman 65); Paterson (Craig 64), Day; Gibson, Clark, Dickinson (c) (Nutley 11).
Tries: Hammond, Heem
Conversions: Shillcock (2)
Penalties: Myler (6)
Referee: Greg Macdonald