Jim Mallinder was pleased to see Saints come out on the right side of their ‘arm wrestle’ with Scarlets on Saturday night.
Tries from Ken Pisi and Alex Waller, allied with five points from the boot of JJ Hanrahan, gave Mallinder’s men a 15-11 victory in a tight game at Franklin’s Gardens.
Saints showed great spirit to see out two sin-bin periods, with George North and Jamie Gibson both yellow carded during the 80 minutes.
And with Scarlets, who had gone ahead through a try from Wales scrum-half Gareth Davies, failing with the boot, Saints saw it out to claim the four points in their first Champions Cup fixture of the season.
“It was a tight game,” Mallinder said.
“There were some good moments in the first half and the George North sin-binning was a big moment.
“Even though he didn’t connect, I think he (referee Romain Poite) got it right.
“We might have pushed on had that try stood, but it was a good arm wrestle and we’re pleased to be on the winning side.”
Saints had scored just six tries in their opening four Aviva Premiership games, losing three of them, with the most recent being the 12-6 defeat to Saracens.
But they tried to open things up against Scarlets, with Pisi’s score an early example of the desire to play an expansive game.
“We did talk about being brave and playing with some ambition,” Mallinder said.
“We came pretty close against Saracens and their were some fine margins in that game, against a good side. It was the same today.
“Scarlets have started really well in the Pro12 and it was tight.
“A little more accuracy in that first half and we could have been out of sight.”