ALUN Wyn Jones acknowledged the effort of the Ospreys' players after they produced a battling performance in the Heineken Cup Pool 1 encounter at Northampton.
The skipper had torn a strip off his team following their loss to Leinster eight days earlier, accusing them of a lack of effort.
But after a slow start yesterday they grafted hard at Franklin's Gardens before eventually succumbing 27-16.
"I'll tell you what I said to the players — it was 'thank you'," said Jones.
"Sometimes after a poor performance you can play just as bad in the following game. But the squad responded to the training week and what wasn't said rather than what was said.
"So it's just a thank-you to the squad."
Jones himself could hardly have given more, the lock digging deep in an attempt to inspire his side.
He cut a dejected figure at the post-match press conference, almost inconsolable as he came to terms with the reality of another Heineken Cup campaign almost certainly hitting the buffers for his home region.
But it was the setback against Leinster the previous weekend that has truly cost the Ospreys.
"Not picking up anything today is difficult to take," said Jones.
"But the games come in pairs in Europe and so you have to look at the couple of them together. Last week we were at home and didn't get anything.
"There were a lot more positives to come from the game against Northampton, but, still, the result was short. But it was commendable the way the boys applied themselves this week, with everyone telling us how difficult it was going to be."
Meantime, Northampton coach Jim Mallinder hailed a "sensational" performance by England lock Courtney Lawes after his side's three-tries-to-one triumph.
Lawes was at his destructive best for the Saints, putting in numerous bone-crunching tackles and dominating restarts during an eye-catching performance just two weeks before England launch their autumn Tests campaign.
"Courtney was sensational, not just in his restarts, but with his defence as well," Northampton rugby director Mallinder said.
"He is consistently making big tackles, he consistently makes big carries and he is doing that for 80 minutes now, which is where I think he has moved on in the past few months.
"He was in and out of games a little bit in the past. Now he is the sort of complete player for the full game."
Mallinder said he hoped the Ospreys would retain an interest in the competition, to take points of Northampton's rivals.