Northampton boss pleased with win but admits plenty of room for improvement
Northampton director of rugby Jim Mallinder admits his side are not firing on all cylinders but was grateful to see them hold on for a "massive" away win over struggling Worcester.
The visitors claimed an 18-17 victory at Sixways but it was second-bottom Worcester who scored the only two tries of the game and the Warriors would have snatched the points had Jamie Shillcock been able to convert his penalty with the last kick of the contest.
Mallinder, whose team needed only a single try for the club's 1,000th in the Premiership but never looked like achieving it, was 'thankful his side had got the break' following Shillcock's late miss but conceded an under-par Saints contributed to their own problems.
Mallinder said: "We've got 12 players on international duty and it's a different type of team but we still have plenty of experience.
"However, we are not playing as well as we can but winning is important and winning away is massive.
"We didn't start well as we conceded an easy early try but we controlled the middle period well with some sensible kicking and good defence."
All of Northampton's points came from the boot of Stephen Myler, who slotted over six of seven penalties, but it was Worcester who were the more creative side for much of the game and scored tries through Dean Hammond and Bryce Heem.
Heem's score came during a dramatic finish which saw Northampton flanker Calum Clark sin-binned for foul play after the award of the try, leaving Saints a man down for the closing stages.
Mallinder said: "Eight points up with a minute to go, the game shouldn't have been in doubt and we shouldn't have been conceding a try out wide and then a lack of discipline gave them a chance to win the game.
"Calum pushed someone as he was disappointed in conceding the try. It was a disappointing thing to do but he has apologised."
Next up for Northampton is a home game against Newcastle next Friday evening, and Mallinder is hoping for better from his side.
"We hope to perform well against Newcastle but we are not playing particularly well at the Gardens. The games there have been tense as we've only been winning them by one score," Mallinder said.
"Newcastle have a good all-round squad but on our day we can beat them."
Worcester's boss Carl Hogg described the game as 'frustrating' after seeing his side just miss out on what would have been only their second win of the season.
Shillcock converted both of Worcester's tries and kicked a penalty but he was unable to slot over his last-gasp effort, while ill-discipline cost the Warriors as they conceded a remarkable 18 penalties to six.
Hogg said: "We gave away a lot of penalties, which gave them a foothold in the match. There were seven shots at goal, six of which were kicked but some of the penalties seemed to be questionable and we'll have to have a good look at them.
"Every time they had the ball, we gave away penalties but they were very robust and very resilient but ultimately we should have won.
"We had an opportunity to win tonight but we didn't take it so there's a sense of frustration as we were good with ball in hand."
Despite the defeat, Hogg felt there were a number of positives to take from the game.
"I thought Jamie Shillcock was very accomplished for his first start at 10 in the Premiership while it was great to have Bryce Heem, Ryan Mills and Cooper Vuna back playing," he said.