Tom Wood felt Saints ‘committed suicide’ in their Aviva Premiership play-off semi-final defeat to Saracens.
Jim Mallinder’s men were beaten 29-24 at Franklin’s Gardens as Sarries edged a game of fine margins.
A penalty try and Wood’s second-half score, allied with 14 points from the boot of Stephen Myler, was not enough for Saints.
And Wood was left to reflect on a couple of key moments that he felt cost his team a place in Saturday’s showpiece against Bath at Twickenham.
“Finishing top of the table counts for nothing, you need to perform on the day and they came with a game plan that helped them do that,” said the England star.
“If we were to reflect on that, have a debrief now and play them next week the result might be different.
“But we know that we committed suicide on a couple of occasions by getting caught trying to dance around in own third.
“Their defensive line and their kick-chase is very organised and ruthless and it got us.
“There were a couple of unlucky things in that we had our full-back (Ahsee Tuala) down in the first half, the game wasn’t stopped and we didn’t realise there wasn’t anyone covering the back field.
“We conceded and were seven points down from the off and that’s a difficult one.
“Then there was a bit of a meltdown when we had the chance to kick it out on the full but kicked it crossfield, which was not part of our game plan.
“Those were two moments in the game and they didn’t come to create, they didn’t come to throw passes around, they were rigid, structured and did what they do best.
“It worked because we weren’t able to knock them out of that rhythm.”