GLOUCESTER director of rugby Nigel Davies says Saints are ‘without a shadow of a doubt, one of the best teams in Europe’.
The former Scarlets boss saw his first competitive game in charge of the Cherry and Whites end in a 24-19 defeat as Jim Mallinder’s men claimed victory at Kingsholm on Saturday.
Two tries from George Pisi and one from skipper Dylan Hartley did the damage as Davies was left to lament his side’s failure to finish off their opponents, who were at one point down to 13 men.
But the Gloucester supremo did recognise the strength of the Saints, speaking highly of his side’s first opposition of the new Aviva Premiership season.
“I’ve come up against Northampton in the past and know quite a bit about what they’re about but I’m really disappointed that we worked so hard to get into the game and weren’t able to finish it off,” said Davies.
“What I’ll take from that and what the players will take from that is that they don’t need to panic. If we play our game and play to our structures we’ve got the capability to beat sides.
“Northampton are, without a shadow of a doubt, one of the top teams in Europe. They’ve proved that over the last couple of years and we were very close to beating them on Saturday.”
Davies did have some success against Northampton last season as his Scarlets side won at Franklin’s Gardens in the Heineken Cup pool stages.
But he couldn’t get the better of them this time round and felt Saints’ stability was the key factor at Kingsholm.
“We played against a side that’s been growing for the last three years,” said Davies. “The team hasn’t changed much during that time.
“They know each other’s game inside out, particularly what they’re good at, whereas we’ve only been together for three months.”