Forwards coach Dorian West felt soggy conditions were to blame for Saints’ bitty showing against London Welsh.
Northampton claimed a win at a rain-soaked Franklin’s Gardens as they won the battle of the packs to prevail 23-16.
But they were made to fight all the way by spirited Welsh, who had led 10-3 early in the first half only to be undone by a penalty try and a Ken Pisi score.
Ryan Lamb’s 13 points with the boot and the fly-half’s moment of magic to set up Pisi’s first-half try proved the difference on an afternoon where the rain flowed, but the rugby did not.
And West said: “We’re very pleased. It’s tough in conditions like that. It’s difficult to play much expansive rugby and run them around the pitch to score lots of tries, which is what you want to do against a team like London Welsh.
“It wasn’t one of those occasions today and it was about getting the result. We did that.”
Welsh were up for the war of attrition at the Gardens, showing their power in the pack to win an early penalty try and ensure Saints No.8 Gerrit-Jan van Velze saw yellow.
But two sin-binnings of their own, for Franck Montanella and Dan Caprice, proved costly as Saints ended their three-match league losing streak to keep in touch at the top of the Premiership.
West was impressed with the way his men combatted Welsh’s physical threat and was just happy to pick up the four points.
“They’ve got a good pack of forwards but we didn’t get a chance to run them around and tire them out like we’d want to because of the conditions and they were able to stick in the game for long periods,” he said.
“We were ill disciplined at the start of the game, which was disappointing and then they got some momentum. When they get momentum they’re hard to stop.
“Overall in the game, our scrum was more or less on top and when we mauled we did pretty well.
“It was one of those situations where you’d like to tire them out a bit more by playing rugby and then you get even more dominance up front but that wasn’t the case today and we stuck at it to get a hard-fought victory in the end.”