Northampton Saints find themselves in an unfamiliar position at this stage of the season but prop Alex Waller insists they are not about to hit the panic button.
Saints set the standard during the Aviva Premiership Rugby regular season last term and finished top of the pile but they now find themselves in sixth, five points off the play-off places.
That follows last weekend’s 26-25 loss to a resurgent Newcastle Falcons, while the likes of Wasps and Harlequins each registered victories to keep Jim Mallinder’s side at an arm’s length.
However, Waller knows sneaking into the top four is all that matters, after finishing three spots and eight points ahead of Saracens last season only for the Allianz Park outfit to clinch the title.
“We are probably not where we want to be, we would like to be sitting top at this point but we are not panicking just yet,” he said.
“We’re only just over halfway through the season so there’s plenty of time to turn it around.
“There are only a few points between us and the top four so we would be right back in the mix with a couple of wins.
“We have the quality of player to get into the play-offs, and we are more than capable of winning if we get there. It’s in our own hands.”
Falcons fly-half Andy Goode kicked 16 points during Sunday’s game at Kingston Park and stretched their lead out to 26-11 just after half-time, which the Saints never recovered from despite two second-half Lee Dickson tries.
Although Waller thought his team were unfortunate, he also believes that ill-discipline is one of the main reasons why they are not sitting pretty in the Aviva Premiership Rugby top four.
“At the end of the day discipline cost us,” he added.
“We conceded a few too many penalties, everyone knows how good a goal kicker Andy Goode is and he made us pay.
“It’s an area we need to work on, making silly mistakes, but bar last weekend we have stepped up on occasions.
“I think up front we were the dominant side but we couldn’t capitalise on our opportunities. We created a few but we didn’t quite finish them.
“We came back very strongly in the second half but ultimately we fell just short.”