Jim Mallinder praised Saints’ ‘outstanding’ defence after the gritty 19-12 success at London Irish.
Irish failed to break through the visiting rearguard, only managing four Shane Geraghty penalties for their efforts.
That strong resistance gave Saints the platform on which to build the win and they earned it thanks to Luther Burrell’s try and 14 points from Stephen Myler’s boot.
It is a victory that sends Saints top of the Aviva Premiership, with four wins from five games, and Mallinder hailed the hard-fought triumph at the Madejski Stadium.
“We said beforehand that if we got a three-point win here that’d do, but we got a seven-point win and it’s pleasing,” said the director of rugby.
“London Irish played well, particularly in the second half. They put us under pressure and there are just a couple of things we need to sharpen up on.
“After we scored, we could have scored again. There were a couple of high tackles that gave them momentum and field position, but generally we’re pleased.
“We had a really good first half, could have scored another at the end of the first half and a chance to score in the second.
“Sometimes when you come away, you base it on your defence and that was outstanding today.”
Myler and Geraghty battled it out with the boot, with the current Saints fly-half eventually outshining his former team-mate.
It was a crucial kicking display from the Northampton No.10, and Mallinder was quick to recognise his contribution to the win.
“You need that, particularly when you’ve got Shane Geraghty on the other side kicking his goals,” he said.
“Shane’s been playing really well this year and his goalkicking seems to be a lot more consistent.
“Stephen we know can kick his goals and we learnt lessons from the Wasps defeat, that we need to keep building pressure, particularly away from home.”