For 55 minutes Northampton Saints asked serious questions of Aviva Premiership Rugby champions Saracens last weekend – but Paul Hill admits it takes just one simple mistake to trip up against a side of that calibre.
However, the England prop is of the belief that his re-energised Saints will learn from their mistakes rather than dwell on them heading into Sunday’s blockbuster clash with Wasps.
Stephen Myler had kicked four penalties to put Northampton into a 12-9 lead against Saracens before prop Alex Waller’s yellow card turned the game on its head.
From there Saracens won the game with their typical ruthless efficiency but there was much for Northampton to be positive about when they reviewed the video of the game.
And if anyone is doubting Saints’ semi-final credentials this year, Hill insists the squad certainly isn’t.
“If you watch the game back, for 55 minutes we were solid against a team that won both the Premiership and in Europe last year – so to keep a side like that in the box was great,” said Hill.
“But every player in these tight games needs to get every single small detail right and the slip of one man can cost us.
“Unfortunately we didn’t keep everyone on the pitch and once you’re down to 14 players you make it that much tougher.
“We’re 1-2 in terms of wins and losses, but we kept Saracens under pressure for a lot of the defeat – now we need to make sure we keep the momentum up for the entire game.
“I’ve found that because we were not in the top four last year people have been doubting that we can return, but after an awesome pre-season we know exactly how good we can be – we still have not only a lot of quality but strength in character.”
The challenge scarcely gets any easier for Northampton ahead of Wasps’ visit this Sunday, who like Saracens still hold a 100 per cent record this season.
But Hill added: “Wasps have got a lot of strength in the back-line but it’s not just about that – they have got some big second-rows which has been a point of detail for us this week.
“But we’ve got top internationals in that pack like Louis Picamoles and Tom Wood who can match them in strength and intelligence.”