'A test of our character' - Ludlam rallies Saints after big Bears loss

Lewis Ludlam says Bristol Bears did 'a proper job' on Saints at Ashton Gate on Friday night.
It was a tough night for Lewis Ludlam and Saints (photo by Harry Trump/Getty Images)It was a tough night for Lewis Ludlam and Saints (photo by Harry Trump/Getty Images)
It was a tough night for Lewis Ludlam and Saints (photo by Harry Trump/Getty Images)

And the skipper has urged his team-mates to pick themselves up quickly as they bid to bounce back from the 52-21 defeat.

Saints returned to Gallagher Premiership action in extremely sluggish fashion, struggling to get out of the blocks as they fell 17-0 down against the Bears.

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Ollie Sleightholme did score two superb tries and Jake Garside also delivered a five-pointer of his own, but Saints were well beaten.

And Ludlam said: "It was extremely frustrating.

"We didn't get enough parts of our game right to apply pressure for long enough.

"We'll be disappointed but the overriding message is that we can't feel sorry for ourselves.

"We've got to get ourselves ready because it's a new challenge coming against Saracens next week."

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Ludlam added: "They (Bristol) did a proper job on us and it's a good challenge for this team now.

"It's easy to get out of bed on a Monday morning when you're top and you're winning, but this will be a test of our character, a test of our strength, a test of our ambitions this season in terms of how we're going to turn up on Monday.

"We've got to pick ourselves up off the floor pretty quickly and get going.

"I've got no doubt the boys will come in firing and wanting to improve on that performance."

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Bristol scored seven tries against Saints, who were also thrashed at Ashton Gate little more than a year earlier.

"They're an extremely dangerous team," Ludlam said.

"It's not an easy place to come and I don't think the league table reflects the quality of that team.

"But all we can look at is ourselves and we know we weren't good enough in many key areas of the game.

"We have to be performance-driven and have to take the lessons out of that pretty quickly because there's another challenge coming on Friday.

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"We just didn't apply pressure well enough. It turned into a game of you-score-we-score.

"We did a good job of getting down there at times and looking dangerous, but we let them in way too easily, didn't deal with their maul well enough and scrum time allowed them to piggyback up the field so it's key parts of the game that kept them in it and didn't allow us to apply pressure."

Saints will still be top of the table when they host Saracens on Friday night, but their seven-point lead will have been cut significantly.

"We're top of the table but we haven't won anything yet," Ludlam said.

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"Top of the table is a temporary thing and we have to be performance-driven.

"We haven't won the league in half a season, we've just got to pick ourselves up and keep going.

"Also, we haven't lost anything either.

"We've just got to keep picking ourselves up and go again to improve key parts of our game because we've got all the quality in that changing room to go out and perform, but we didn't put our best foot forward tonight.

"All that matters is that we come in Monday, work on key areas of the game, then Tuesday we do the same. Wednesday, we keep improving and we're ready to fire on Friday.

"We've got to put a performance in and see where that gets us."