Northampton win thrilling final

Northampton Saints beat Saracens with a score in extra time from Alex Waller to win their first Premiership title.

    The victory completed a double for Northampton, having won the Amlin Challenge Cup a week ago [Getty Images]
    The victory completed a double for Northampton, having won the Amlin Challenge Cup a week ago [Getty Images]

    Northampton were crowned English rugby champions for the first time in the most dramatic style when replacement prop Alex Waller scored a controversial try in the last minute of extra time to secure a 24-20 victory over Saracens.

    Saracens looked on course for victory at Twickenham as they led 20-17 going into the final seconds of extra time - the first time the added 20 minutes has been seen in the final.

    There probably didn't deserve to be a winner, it was very level. But an amazing feeling and I'm so proud of the lads.

    Stephen Myler, Northampton Saints fly-half

    The victory completed a memorable double for Northampton, having won the Amlin Challenge Cup a week ago, but it was double despair for Saracens, beaten by Toulon in the Heineken Cup decider a week previously.

    "It's hard to take in," said Northampton flyhalf Stephen Myler. "A strange game, a strange finish. There probably didn't deserve to be a winner, it was very level. But an amazing feeling and I'm so proud of the lads. 

    In the first final in 10 years not to feature Leicester, Saracens had the best of a tight, intensely physical opening half hour and edged 6-0 ahead with two Owen Farrell penalties.

    However Saints wing Ken Pisi broke through three tackles in a 70-metre charge that had the crowd on their feet and when Saracens were eventually penalised hauling him down 20 metres from their line, Wood eschewed the kick at goal and opted for a lineout.

    It paid dividends when sparkling handling by Pisi and England centre Luther Burrell sent Ben Foden clear to score the opener.

    Myler converted and Saints turned round 7-6 ahead and with their tails up.

    Farrell put Saracens back into the lead with his third penalty but there was little in it as both defences ensured there was no space to work with as the game was condensed into a series of thumping midfield collisions.

    Northampton's touch of brilliance

    It needed a touch of brilliance to open the door and Myler provided it with a delicate kick into the corner for Pisi to score.

    Saracens thought they had hit back within two minutes when Farrell scored in the corner.

    The referee awarded the try but, just as Alex Goode was lining up the conversion, the TV match official alerted the referee to a forward pass in the build up and the score was chalked off - much to the disgust of the Saracens bench and fans.

    It was Farrell's last contribution as he went off injured and it was to prove costly.

    Saracens pressed relentlessly and were rewarded with eight minutes remaining when a brilliant round-the-front hand-off by hooker Schalk Brits sent Marcelo Bosch over to level the scores at 14-14 - the conversion, missed.

    That remained the situation after 80 minutes as the final went to extra time.

    A penalty apiece had it 17-17 at the break but Saracens, who needed to score again as Northampton would have won due to their 2-1 try advantage, made it 20-17 with another Hodgson three-pointer with seven minutes left.

    The match ended with a huge pile-up of bodies and Northampton claiming a try by Waller and the TMO was asked to establish whether it had been scored.

    After an age he uttered the immortal words "you may award the try" and Northampton were champions for the first time.

    SOURCE: Reuters


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