Alan Dickens wants Northampton to bounce back from a troubled Aviva Premiership season after ending the campaign with a 32-24 bonus point victory over Worcester at Franklin’s Gardens.
Northampton were 14-10 down at half-time after Worcester youngster Will Butler, on his first Premiership start for the club, touched down twice, both converted by fly-half Dorian Jones, against a try from Saints number eight Mitch Eadie and a conversion and penalty from stand-off James Grayson.
But, after England centre Ben Te’o grabbed a third Warriors try which Jones converted, Northampton ran in touchdowns from centre Nafi Tuitavake, full-back Ben Foden, on his final game for the Saints, and wing Tom Collins.
Grayson added two more conversions in the second half, while replacement Stephen Myler, another long-time Saints servant who is also leaving the club, kicked a last minute penalty.
It left Northampton in ninth place in the Premiership, their lowest finish since they were relegated to the Championship in April 2007.
Interim head coach Dickens said: “Ultimately, it is disappointing.
“I look back at the games against Saracens and they put us away convincingly. I think it was just an element of confidence and we have not had that to win those type of games.
“But we have finished well and we have to be pleased with today.
“We talked a few weeks ago of having some good games and then that bleeding into pre-season and next season. We are just not where we want to be. We finished ninth and we want to be challenging for silverware at the end of the season.”
Butler’s two tries had Northampton shell-shocked and Dickens admitted it was a rocky start to the match.
“We made our own downfall in the first 10 or 15 minutes. We were loose at the kick-off, lost possession and they put us under pressure.
“Foden got a yellow card and they scored 14 points while he was off the pitch but credit to the players, we got back in during the first 20 minutes of the second half.”
Butler’s game ended before the half-hour with an arm injury while, at the same time, scrum-half Francois Hougaard suffered a concussion and was stretchered off the pitch.
Worcester’s director of rugby Alan Solomons said that was the turning point of the game, in his opinion.
Solomons said: “What you have to remember is, not only is Francois a talisman for us and playing terrifically but we have other injuries and people away.
“We had that big hit from the kick-off and that set the tone. We were doing well until that double injury.”
He added: “It would have been nice to have won this game and finished ninth but that is just the way it has gone.
“The important point for me is that we are clear of the relegation zone.
“We have to have a massive pre-season and the big work for us will be consistency and performance.”