Tom Wood has urged Saints not to let their season fall apart after the 16-6 defeat to Premiership title rivals Saracens on Saturday.
Alex Goode’s first-half try and 11 points from the boot of Owen Farrell saw Sarries to victory at Franklin’s Gardens, knocking Northampton off the top of the table in the process.
It was a huge disappointment for Jim Mallinder’s men as they had enough possession to have won the game.
But they couldn’t make it count as Saracens showed their defensive steel, and Wood admits the loss was tough to take.
“We’re pretty disappointed on the basis we played a lot of rugby, put them under pressure and perhaps didn’t get our rewards,” said the flanker, who has now joined up with England ahead of the autumn internationals.
“But you’ve got to give credit to them. They defended well and put us under sufficient pressure for us to cough the ball up at crucial moments.”
And he added: “I guess we’ve got to try to stay positive, on the back of Saturday it’s pretty difficult. We feel like we’ve given that one away and choked a little bit on it because we had the run of play and so many positive things, especially in the first half.
“Although we were down at half-time, we were actually pretty positive in there. We thought this was going to come our way if we kept doing the right things. One counter-attack had killed us but we’ve got to keep our chins up, stay positive.
“It doesn’t get any easier away to Leicester this week but that’s the nature of the game. This is where we want to be: top flight, challenging at the top, so we’ve just got to keep our heads, keep working and not let it all fall apart on the back of one tough result.”
Saints were hit by first-half injuries to England stars Dylan Hartley and Courtney Lawes as well as Stephen Myler.
Wood acknowledged the loss of those players was a big blow, but insists Saints should still have had enough quality to claim victory.
“They’re pretty crucial to the way we want to play,” he said. “It does stretch your resources when you want to make tactical substitutions at the right times and when you’re forced into it that early in the game, it does affect things.
“But we’ve got strength in our side, we’ve got faith in that and we’ve got to play better in those circumstances.”