Two-try hero George Pisi felt Saints’ notoriously tough pre-season played a huge part in the gritty win at Gloucester on Saturday.
Northampton had just 13 men on the field for seven of the final 13 minutes at Kingsholm as Gerrit-Jan van Velze and Paul Doran-Jones saw yellow in a frantic finale.
But they resisted a late Cherry and White onslaught to seal a 24-19 victory to start the new Aviva Premiership season in fine style.
Last season’s player of the year Pisi played a huge part in the win as he scored a try in each half and put in a gargantuan showing at centre.
He and his team-mates showed they had something left in the tank towards the end to defy the home side and Pisi puts that down to the work done during a typically tortuous pre-season.
“For us it showed how good a team we are and what we can do,” said the Samoan star.
“We worked together, we worked hard as a team for the whole of pre-season and when it came down to it we were able to come out on top.
“The Saints are known for their pre-seasons and how tough it is – and it works.
“They (Gloucester) worked us really hard out there and in terms of fitness on the field, it looks good. As you could see, the last 13 minutes we still had some energy left to win the game.”
Saints were stingy in defence during pre-season, keeping a clean sheet in a win against Leinster and conceding just three points on their way to victory at Edinburgh.
They continued in the same vein in the first game of the competitive campaign, and Pisi, who shone at both ends of the pitch, hailed the defiance of his team-mates when they were two men short.
“It brings the best out of players when you don’t have that comfort there,” he said. “You’ve got to work a bit harder and that’s what we did. We worked hard to get there.
“Our past three games no one’s really scored against us, apart from on Saturday but you can’t really count that because it was a penalty try.
“We pride ourselves on our defence and hopefully this can be the strength of our team.”