Sport Writer George Wellbelove dissects the Northampton Saints’ victory in the Gallagher Rugby Premiership final

Written by George Wellbelove
First year undergraduate studying History and aspiring sports journalist.

Northampton Saints battled to a 25-21 victory over Bath to record their first major title in ten years. Having last won the Premiership in 2014, Saints were eager to avoid another year without silverware. Phil Dowson and his team will no doubt be ecstatic at becoming English champions and all eyes will be looking towards the future as key members of their squad depart for pastures new at the end of the season.

Though Saints ultimately won, they were made to work for it

Though Saints ultimately won, they were made to work for it. Bath were better in many areas of the game with huge thundering tackles coming in from Sam Underhill and Charlie Ewels, as Saints struggled to initially make an impact. The turning point of the match came at around the twenty minute mark as Bath prop Beno Obano was shown a red card for a high tackle.
Immediately, Saints sought to punish Bath’s poor discipline and they got their reward through a wonderful set piece move, with Tommy Freeman scoring. The season’s top try scorer Ollie Sleightholme then notched his fifteenth of the season with a barnstorming run and then grubber kick to dot down in the corner.

However, Bath were in no position to let Northampton take control of the game. Thomas du Toit crossed over shortly after Saints’ period of dominance and Will Muir scored to level the game at 18-18.
Saints were able to score the winning try later as replacement George Hendy sidestepped his way through tackles before a final offload to Alex Mitchell to run in under the posts. Saints had finally achieved the killer blow they needed to defeat Bath. Obano’s red card will appear to have made Northampton’s task easier but in actuality, Bath were still able to battle Northampton right until the final whistle despite being one man down.

Northampton will be marvelled at for 2023/24 season. Finishing top of the league and reaching an Investec Champions Cup semi final, Saints will be keen to keep on progressing and staying at the top of English and European rugby for years to come.

With key players such as Courtney Lawes, Lewis Ludlam and Alex Waller either leaving the club or retiring, there will be some holes to fill. But Northampton’s impressive talent coming through their academy, most notably in the form of England U20 star Henry Pollock, will surely leave them in good stead as they go again next year to try and defend their title.

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