Jim Mallinder admitted his relief after Saints toughed it out to win at London Irish on Sunday afternoon.
Mallinder’s men put in a defiant defensive performance to escape with a 19-14 victory from their visit to the Madejski Stadium.
A try from James Wilson and 14 points from the boot of Stephen Myler ensured Saints claimed their fifth success in seven Aviva Premiership games this season.
Irish did threaten with new recruit James O’Connor steering their talented backline around the pitch, but they were frustrated by a fine rearguard action.
And when asked for his main emotion after the game, Mallinder replied: “It was relief. We knew it wouldn’t be easy coming down here. They’ve got a good home record have London Irish and they’ve beaten us here in the past.
“We didn’t play to our best. We never reached the heights of last week but we got there in the end and when you’re away from home that’s important.”
Irish had only lost one league game in 2013 prior to Sunday and had beaten Saints 39-17 in the corresponding fixture last season.
But it wasn’t to be Brian Smith’s side’s day and though not entirely happy with the performance, Mallinder was delighted with the defensive effort.
“London Irish did a job on us,” he said. “They slowed us down. We didn’t quite get our maul going and options off that.
“We probably did play a little bit tight and ran into their strength, which was around the ruck area. We should have been more expansive to give us some momentum.
“But in the second half defensively we were very good. O’Connor came in for them and he played really well.
“They got the ball wide and they tested us in a lot of situations, but defensively we remained strong, which was pleasing.”