Northampton won ugly but Premiership success deserved – Courtney Lawes

Courtney Lawes revealed his immediate reaction to Northampton’s Gallagher Premiership title triumph was annoyance that they had played so poorly.

Saints prevailed 25-21 in a tense final at Twickenham even though Bath completed 59 minutes with 14 men after prop Beno Obano was sent off for a high tackle on Juarno Augustus.

Lawes, playing his last game for the club before joining Brive, admitted they had won ugly but insisted they were worthy champions given their performances over the course of the season.

Courtney Lawes lifts the Premiership trophy at Twickenham
Courtney Lawes with the trophy (Mike Egerton/PA)

“I couldn’t believe we had actually won it because we tried so hard to lose,” the Northampton captain said.

“At the end of the game I was actually pretty pissed off. Slowly it has kind of settled in. We did what we needed to. We got across the finish line and that’s what rugby is.

“Sometimes it doesn’t look pretty and it certainly didn’t today, but we won and that’s what matters. I think we’ve deserved it throughout the season.”

Lawes signed off his 17-year Northampton career with his 283rd appearance and a victory made possible by George Hendy’s late break and the support line run by match winner Alex Mitchell.

Alex Mitchell scores the winning try
Alex Mitchell scores the winning try (Mike Egerton/PA)

The 35-year-old, who arrived for Saints’ victory press conference bare-chested and wearing ski goggles, heads to Brive as one of the greats of the English game.

“It will take a bit of time to set in. You always focus on the next thing in rugby because the next job is always so important,” Lawes said.

“There are a lot of things I will never do again at the Saints, but I owe the club so much. It won’t be the last time I contribute something to the club.

“I’m just really happy to have been able to deliver what the club deserves, really.”

Bath rallied from the red card shown to Obano to lead 21-18 with 13 minutes left and even after Mitchell had raced over they were pressing for the score that would reward their resilience.

Head coach Johann van Graan had no complaints with the sending off that threatens Obano’s involvement in England’s tour to Japan and New Zealand this summer.

“Beno is disappointed but we are a circle of men and women of this club – we win together and we lose together,” he said.

“I’m not going to comment on any laws, that’s way above my pay grade. All I can do is adapt to what decisions are made on the pitch.

“Obviously everybody wants a Premiership final with 15 v 15 on the pitch, but the referee Christophe Ridley went through the process with the TMO and assistants.

Beno Obano (centre) sits on the bench after being sent off
Beno Obano (centre) sits on the bench after being sent off (Mike Egerton/PA)

“I think he’s been the best ref in the Premiership, all credit to him and congratulations on his first final.

“I shook his hand afterwards and we’ll have no issue with the red card, that’s the decision that was made. Nothing more to say on that really.

“I don’t believe it was foul play. It was a collision between two extremely powerful rugby players, a ball-carrier and a tackler.

“All we’ll focus on is our performance, which was heroic. I couldn’t be prouder of the players.”