Alex Mitchell scores winning try as Northampton Saints deny 14-man Bath in epic Premiership final

Planet Rugby
Alex Mitchell scoring the winning try for Northampton Saints in the 2024 Premiership final.

Alex Mitchell scoring the winning try for Northampton Saints in the 2024 Premiership final.

Alex Mitchell went over with six minutes remaining as Northampton Saints won their second Premiership title with a dramatic 25-21 triumph over 14-man Bath.

The West Country outfit had started the game well, with Beno Obano scrummaging nicely alongside the outstanding Thomas du Toit, but the loosehead was then sent off for a high shot on Juarno Augustus.

That left Bath down to 14 men for an hour, and when Northampton touched down twice in quick succession through Tommy Freeman and Ollie Sleightholme, it looked a long way back for Johann van Graan’s men.

However, the Rec-based outfit responded superbly and were only two points in arrears a few minutes into the second period as Du Toit’s try and successive Finn Russell three-pointers reduced the deficit.

Although Fin Smith extended Northampton’s buffer, Will Muir crossed the whitewash to level matters before Russell took his team in front.

Bath were close to a remarkable victory, but youngster George Hendy broke down the right-hand side late on and off-loaded for Mitchell to score the winning try as Saints claimed their first Premiership title since 2014.

It proved to be the perfect send-off for club legends such as Courtney Lawes, Alex Waller and Lewis Ludlam, who are now heading for pastures new.

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Northampton have been the Premiership’s standout team this season, operating with multiple strings to their bow but primarily a cutting edge in attack, yet they went into their shells as Bath took control.

It took the tackle-busting ability of 21-year-old replacement wing Hendy and the support work of Mitchell to eventually break their opponents, who saw Sam Underhill lead a remarkable defensive effort.

Hendy was named man of the match as Northampton said a triumphant farewell to Lawes, Waller, Ludlam and Alex Moon, but Bath’s side was also full of worthy performances, including half-backs Ben Spencer and Russell.

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Russell’s first significant act was to send an ugly penalty kick wide of the left upright, drawing a frown from the Scotland playmaker, but he was more successful with his second attempt.

George Furbank was clattered in contact as a nervy set-piece battle gave way to tentative outbreaks of attack, but Northampton were unable to find any space in the the well-drilled Bath defence.

As the second quarter approached Saints patiently advanced deep into opposition territory, allowing Smith to land a drop-goal, before the match tilted against Bath with Obano’s exit.

The impact was almost instant as Northampton plundered their first try, Lawes threading a pass out of contact to Furbank, and the England full-back worked his magic, gliding into space and sending Freeman over.

Furbank provided the assist for Sleightholme to score in the left corner, but Bath hit back when Du Toit squeezed over from short range in a major victory for their pack.

A Russell penalty early in the second-half reduced the deficit to two points and Northampton then knocked on as they looked to capitalise on a precious position close the whitewash.

Russell and Underhill double tackled Burger Odendaal, forcing the South African to limp off, and having absorbed a Smith penalty Bath struck next when Muir touched down Spencer’s cross-field kick.

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Even Furbank produced a handling error as Saints’ foundations began to shake, a pinpoint 50-22 from Russell adding to the pressure.

Russell sent over his third penalty and Bath’s resilience then shone through as they soaked up waves of Northampton attacks before winning a scrum penalty close to their own 22.

Saints lost Smith to injury in another hammer blow, but his half-back partner Mitchell came to the rescue as Hendy used his strength to bust through multiple tackles before finding England’s scrum-half in support for the decisive score.

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The teams

Northampton Saints: 15 George Furbank, 14 Tommy Freeman, 13 Burger Odendaal, 12 Fraser Dingwall, 11 Ollie Sleightholme, 10 Fin Smith, 9 Alex Mitchell, 8 Juarno Augustus, 7 Tom Pearson, 6 Courtney Lawes (c), 5 Alex Coles, 4 Alex Moon, 3 Trevor Davison, 2 Curtis Langdon, 1 Alex Waller
Replacements: 16 Sam Matavesi, 17 Emmanuel Iyogun, 18 Elliot Millar Mills, 19 Temo Mayanavanua, 20 Sam Graham, 21 Lewis Ludlam, 22 Tom James, 23 George Hendy

Bath: 15 Matt Gallagher, 14 Joe Cokanasiga, 13 Ollie Lawrence, 12 Cameron Redpath, 11 Will Muir, 10 Finn Russell, 9 Ben Spencer, 8 Alfie Barbeary, 7 Sam Underhill, 6 Ted Hill, 5 Charlie Ewels, 4 Quinn Roux, 3 Thomas du Toit, 2 Tom Dunn, 1 Beno Obano
Replacements: 16 Niall Annett, 17 Juan Schoeman, 18 Will Stuart, 19 Elliott Stooke, 20 Josh Bayliss, 21 Louis Schreuder, 22 Orlando Bailey, 23 Miles Reid

Referee: Christophe Ridley
Assistant Referees: Luke Pearce, Anthony Woodthorpe
TMO: Tom Foley

READ MORE: ‘He has hit him in the chin’ – England prop Beno Obano sees red after nasty high shot in Premiership final