Tom Wood admitted Saints were taught a ‘cruel lesson’ as they surrendered their chance to take anything from Saturday’s Champions Cup opener at Racing Metro.
Marc Andreu’s late try allied with Johannes Goosen’s conversion ensured Wood and Co would leave Stade Yves du Manoir without a losing bonus point as Racing won 20-11.
It was tough to take for Saints, who had earlier missed the chance to level the scores as Stephen Myler’s conversion attempt sailed wide of the posts.
And the away side were left to rue Ben Foden’s late clearance attempt, which was charged down, handing Andreu and Goosen the chance to rub salt in Saints’ wounds.
“We came in with a lot of momentum and a lot of belief feeling like we could turn them over,” said Wood.
“They’re a quality side, they’ve got a big budget and they’re full of international talent but we felt like we had the firepower to do the job. It wasn’t to be and that’s frustrating.
“In the last 30 seconds we’ve committed suicide and given away a bonus point, which would have been crucial.
“On the one hand you could say it’s bravery and ambition to play and get the win, but you’ve got to be smart and we needed to construct something not just throw it around and lose it in our own 22. That’s a pretty cruel lesson to learn.
“Fair play to them for nailing the kick out there and that’s just the way it is.”
Saints were never ahead in the game as Alexandre Dumoulin’s early try put Racing in the ascendancy.
And they never looked back as their Aviva Premiership opponents saw chances go begging on a frustrating night in Colombes.
“We worked very hard, the commitment was there and we had great travelling support,” said Wood.
“We just didn’t get things go our way, decision wise and with the bounce of the ball.
“We were a bit slow. We were generally good, but we lacked edge in the first 20 minutes. I wouldn’t say we gave them soft points, but our intensity wasn’t there.
“It was good, but it wasn’t outstanding and that just shows what this competition is like. There’s a few per cent difference and we lacked it for the first 15, 20 minutes.”