Tom Wood was delighted with the fighting spirit Saints showed in their scrappy win over Scarlets on Saturday night.
Jim Mallinder’s men battled to a 15-11 win to ensure their Champions Cup campaign got off to a winning start.
Twice they had to cope with losing a man to the sin bin, with George North yellow carded during the first period and Jamie Gibson during the second.
Saints stopped Scarlets scoring in both of those spells and actually added to their own tally.
And Wood, who was named man of the match, said: “There is a lot of fight in defence. There were a couple of times when they made half breaks and got in behind us.
“Credit to Fodes (Ben Foden) and I think it was (Lee) Dickson on a few occasions scrambling back and making last ditch tackles and then everyone getting behind the ball again to make sure they didn’t get over.
“There was a lot of graft up front – the front-row boys scrumming and mauling in the lineout.
“There’s plenty to work on no doubt. They were wet conditions. We have got to manage the game well.
“Some of our box kicking went astray. Some of our set-up play to clear our lines was not brilliant. But the fight in defence and the kick-chase was up there.”
Saints had lost three of their opening four Aviva Premiership matches going into the game against a Scarlets team who had won six of their seven Guinness Pro12 matches.
And Wood was just happy to secure the four points ahead of Saturday’s trip to Glasgow in Pool 3, which also contains a star-studded Racing 92 side.
“Relief to be honest,” said Wood when asked for his overriding emotion after the Scarlets win.
“I felt we could have pulled clear early on. That (Luther Burrell) try being disallowed was a turning point.
“I felt that we really had them on the ropes at that point and the maul going over the line but not managing to dot it down – key opportunities like that where we did not quite nail it and let them off the hook.
“They stuck in the fight and it was a pretty nail biting last five-10 minutes. That could have easily gone against us.
“You are relying on the bounce of the ball, a refereeing decision, a chargedown, an intercept anything like that can break your heart in the last second.
“We were lucky to get away with it.”