London Irish boss Brian Smith feels his side earned the respect of Saints in Saturday’s defeat at the Madejski Stadium.
Smith’s side produced a spirited second-half showing, but didn’t quite have enough to claim the win as Jim Mallinder’s men walked away with a fine 19-12 success.
Irish, buoyed by their win at Leicester the week before, had their moments, with Shane Geraghty pulling the strings for the home side.
But, ultimately, Saints were too strong and Smith was left to take the positives from a loss.
“You have to be in the contest at the back end against these big teams,” he said.
“The next step we need to take is to put them away.
“Week on week we are earning the respect of our opponents. That’s phase one for us.
“We would have been lucky to nick a draw, but whenever you take a point from a top-four team there is not too much wrong, particularly if you are in the contest up to the death and we certainly were.
“It is always disappointing to come up short. We didn’t come here to nick a losing bonus point, we wanted to win.
“However, this is our third really physical game in succession and we have guys like Blair Cowan in absolute bits at the moment.”