Northampton Saints boss Phil Dowson has told his team they need to improve and lift their game after emphatically losing 46-12 to reigning champions La Rochelle in the Champions Cup.
Dowson’s men were blown out of the water in the first period and found themselves trailing 32-0 at the interval.
Saints could only manage 12 points in the second half as the French side added a further 14 points of their own, underlining their status as Europe’s best.
The director of rugby was pleased with some aspects, like the scrum but was frustrated with conceding so many penalties and points in the first half.
“I’m very disappointed with that result, particularly conceding 32 points in the first half and not answering,” said Dowson.
“Mistakes at this level get punished by good sides and we had to take that in the first half. We fought incredibly hard in the second half, and we stuck at it.
“I was particularly pleased with the scrum, but to concede that many points in the first half on the back of ill-discipline is very disappointing.”
Dowson was pleased with the impact of his bench, who ignited a spark to score their two tries, but it was too little too late as La Rochelle was already leading 46-0.
“The bench was good and we wanted to bring on some energy late on. Courtney Lawes coming back was excellent,” added Dowson.
“The second-half performance was better, and it was 14-12. They scored two tries – one was a charge down and the other one we passed the ball to them. The second half was way better, but it was 40 minutes late.”
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Looking for improvement
Saints turn their focus to Munster as they host the Irish side at Franklin’s Gardens this weekend and are desperate to improve.
“We have only got one option ahead of the Munster match and that is to get better. I say the same thing every week, we have to make sure we learn the lessons and get better moving forward,” said Dowson.
“We need to encourage those things that were positive and make sure against Munster we are a lot better.”
La Rochelle are now on a 10-game win streak in the Champions Cup, and former All Black Tawera Kerr-Barlow was particularly pleased with the forwards’ performance.
“It was a really good start and our forwards laid an extremely good platform for us to work off. It always starts up front with them,” said Kerr-Barlow.
“We are very happy with the way we played for most of the evening, but as you could see from the last 20 minutes there is plenty to work on. It wasn’t a complete match by any means.”