Jamie Gibson admits Saints weren’t quite as switched on as they needed to be during Sunday’s 26-25 defeat at Newcastle Falcons.
And the flanker has expressed his frustration with the showing, with Jim Mallinder’s men having fallen five points behind the Aviva Premiership top four.
Gibson scored Saints’ opening try at Kingston Park, but they headed in 20-11 down at the break as Falcons scored twice, through Alex Tait and Chris Harris.
Lee Dickson’s double helped the away side fight back and they had a chance to win it late on, but squandered a last-gasp lineout.
And Gibson said: “It’s frustrating.
“We started slowly and we’ve seen from Newcastle during the past few weeks that they’re a good side, especially at home.
“They’ve got a good forward pack and a dangerous backline, who can hurt you if you’re not switched on.
“We were probably slightly off the pace in the first half, but we knew we could pull it back.
“We just weren’t quite there at the end.”
The Falcons flew out of the blocks, with Marcus Watson’s try ruled out before Tait latched on to Andy Goode’s pass to open the scoring.
And Gibson said: “They started really fast - you could tell they were up for it.
“The speed of the game in that first 10 minutes was faster than we’ve experienced all season.
“I’m not sure what it was. We just weren’t as good as we normally are.
“We got back, we didn’t make it easy for them, but we weren’t quite as switched on as we needed to be and we got punished for it.”