JIM MALLINDER felt Saints were ‘lucky to win’ against Gloucester and has urged them to learn from their second-half showing at Kingsholm.
Mallinder’s men were superb in the first 40 minutes, taking a 17-6 lead into the break thanks to a try apiece from George Pisi and Dylan Hartley.
Ryan Lamb kicked the extras and added a penalty, before slotting another conversion in the second half as Pisi scored again.
But Saints were forced into some staunch defending in the final 15 minutes as both Gerrit-Jan van Velze and Paul Doran-Jones saw yellow in a frantic finale.
Gloucester turned up the heat but despite getting back to within five points thanks to a penalty try and a Freddie Burns conversion, the home side could not win out.
Mallinder emphasised the need for Saints, who eventually triumphed 24-19, to be more sensible in the final stages of games and felt they were fortunate to escape with victory on this occasion.
“It was an exciting finish but not something that you really want,” said the director of rugby.
“I was pleased with our first-half performance, we played well, took our opportunities well. But when you talk about taking your opportunities and controlling the game, we certainly didn’t do that in the second half and in the end we were lucky to win.”
However, Mallinder did recognise the battling qualities shown by his side, who were hugely resolute in the face of the late Gloucester onslaught.
The home fans sensed victory when Burns brought the Cherry and Whites back to within touching distance with five minutes to go, but Saints were in no mood to be shifted on the opening day of the season.
“You’ve got to look at the performance and the team spirit,” said Mallinder. “To hang on in there with 13 men was really good for 10 minutes.
“We need to learn the lessons of that second half. We’re a good team with ball in hand but we’ve got to be sensible and sometimes you’ve got to stop playing too much rugby.
“You’ve got to be pragmatic and you’ve got to put the ball in the corner. You’ve got to make them overplay and that’s something we didn’t do in the second half.”