Aviva Premiership Final 2014: Score and Report for Saracens vs. Northampton

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Aviva Premiership Final 2014: Score and Report for Saracens vs. Northampton
Mark Thompson/Getty Images

Northampton Saints emerged victorious in one of the most exciting finals the Aviva Premiership has ever seen, beating Saracens 24-20 after extra time.

BBC Sport congratulated the club on their very first Premiership title: 

Alex Waller scored the winning try with just one minute left on the clock, giving the lead back to his club for the final time.

Northampton's Ben Foden appeared very excited to start the final:

Both teams seemed very nervous during the early proceedings, with the ball firmly entrenched in the centre of the park. Neither Saracens or Saints were willing to take too many chances early, both teams frightened of falling behind early.

The Wolf Pack got on the board first through an Owen Farrell penalty after 10 minutes, and the fly-half doubled his team's advantage six minutes later, Saracens taking full advantage of every Northampton mistake to take a 6-0 lead.

Farrell had a chance to make it 9-0 halfway through the first half, but he dragged his third kick of the day just wide. The miss gave renewed hope to Saints, who now started to push forward in force.

Slowly working the ball into Saracens territory, some beautiful passing from Luther Burrell leading to an easy try for a wide-open Foden. A conversion from Stephen Myler gave the lead to Northampton, a lead they'd defend until the half.

BBC's Paul Grayson didn't like Saracen's execution during the first half, and their lack of precision already hurt them in the Heineken Cup final against Toulon:

Precision is one of the things that Saracens have built their play on this season but they've been imprecise on more than one occasion today.

Both half-time team talks should be similar because both teams are making much more ground with the ball in hand.

Saracens started the second half with renewed energy, upping the tempo and switching from side to side in a hurry. Grayson much preferred to see this side:

"Saracens have come out for the second half playing with pace and accuracy, like the side we have seen all season."

They would reclaim the lead after just five minutes through another penalty from Farrell, but that was the signal for their opponents to turn this Premiership final into a bloodbath.

Massive hits started flying left and right, both teams now determined to leave it all on the pitch. Momentum started shifting towards Saints, with Saracens now happy to kick the ball away in order to preserve the lead, something BBC's Brian Moore did not approve of:

"If you kick the ball away, you no longer have possession. How do you expect to score if you do that? Words fail me."

Northampton displayed excellent patience in the build-up and it would lead to a second try on the hour mark, Myler setting up George Pisi with a beautiful little flick. The conversion made it 14-9, advantage Saints, as shared by Rugby World:

Saracens looked to have retaken the lead within one minute but their try was disallowed for a clear forward pass following a lengthy video review, to the dismay of their fans.

Even worse, Farrell scored the disallowed try and somehow injured himself during the celebrations, meaning Saracens would have to find a way to win without their fly-half.

The pressure now piled on the Saints' defence, and with seven minutes left to go, Marcelo Bosch tied it up with a try in the corner. Filling in for Farrell, Charlie Hodgson's conversion hit the upright as both teams were now tied at 14 with just minutes left to play.

Those would be the final points scored in regulation, and the teams headed for extra time. Moore thought both teams looked absolutely exhausted:

"The players are shattered at the moment. It's been a monumental effort by both sides."

Myler kept his nerves under control, kicking a penalty from a difficult angle to give his team the lead early in extra time, as shared by Northampton Sport:

Hodgson answered straight away from a similar angle, both teams clearly struggling to hold their lines after 80 minutes of bone-crushing rugby. The Daily Mail's Sam Peters thought England manager Stuart Lancaster may have been the biggest loser following this fantastic final:

Saracens seemed to handle the difficult circumstances best as Northampton started giving away penalties all too easily, Hodgson giving The Men in Black the lead with a kick at the start of the second period of extra time.

Saints now had one last chance, with a drop-goal enough to give them the win. Patiently working the ball deep in Saracens territory, Myler refused to position himself in the pocket, perhaps unaware his team didn't need a try.

The Wolf Pack tried to stand firm as Northampton pounced dangerously close to the zone, and with less than a minute to play, Saints pushed with all their might and claimed to have scored a try.

The decision went to video replay, and Waller was awarded the try that would win his club the Aviva Premiership.

Alex Corbisiero looked back on a season filled with difficulties, and he told the BBC the Premiership final was the best way to end such a dark period he could have imagined:

There were some dark times this season. If seems like you're sitting still in quicksand waiting for your body to heal.

There were times when I didn't know if I was going to play before the end of the season or not. I'm just happy I'm back.

To play in a Premiership final - what a way to end a horrendous period of my life.

Team director Jim Mallinder praised the character his players showed in back-to-back matches, speaking to the BBC:

To finish like that, I suppose it's fairytales. It's really, really nice to finish on the winning side.

We showed similar sort of character in the semi-final against Leicester, down but never short of belief.

We'll see what it means when we get back tonight. Hopefully we can have a real celebration over the weekend.

Myler was crowned Man of the Match, playing a vital role in his club's first Premiership title in their history.

For Saracens, back-to-back defeats in the Heineken Cup final and Premiership final must hurt tremendously, but they will have every chance of rebuilding their squad during the summer as they make their push for glory next season.

England will go on their tour of New Zealand with a number of injuries following this gruesome match, and Lancaster may have some issues putting together a side capable of beating the All Blacks when the two teams meet on June 7.

 

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