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Courtney Lawes relieved to end Northampton career with final victory
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Courtney Lawes relieved to end Northampton career with final victory

The France-bound Courtney Lawes says his Northampton side deserved to be crowned English champions but admitted they had ridden their luck against 14-man Bath before clinching their first Premiership title for a decade.

Lawes, who celebrated his final appearance for his hometown club by turning up bare-chested and wearing ski goggles to the post-match press conference, acknowledged Saints’ performance had left much to be desired after hoisting the trophy aloft alongside his teammate Lewis Ludlam. “I’m actually still livid from the game,” said Lawes, speaking to TNT Sports. “I don’t think we could have played worse.

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“To be honest, I couldn’t believe we had actually won it because we tried so hard to lose it. At the end of the game, I was actually pretty pissed off. Sometimes it doesn’t look pretty – and it certainly didn’t today – but we won, and that’s what matters. I’m over the moon and couldn’t have asked for more.

“Bath were a great team today and they really put us under a lot of pressure [but] I think we’ve deserved it throughout the season. Seeing these lads grow up has been really special. There are a lot of things I will never do again at the Saints but I owe the club so much. I’m just really happy to have been able to deliver what the club deserves.”

Lawes, who also confirmed afterwards he would like to be considered for next year’s British & Irish Lions tour to Australia despite his impending move to Brive, suggested the first-half dismissal of Bath’s Beno Obano had, in some ways, made life harder for Northampton because Bath had no option but to raise their game. “I’ve been on both ends of it,” said Lawes. “Sometime when you receive a red card it actually galvanises you a bit. You’ve got nothing to lose and there’s no pressure on you. All of a sudden all the pressure is piled on to the side with 15 and we really felt that today. We didn’t fire on all cylinders and didn’t get our game on to the pitch. But we did enough to win and that’s what matters.”

Bath’s disappointed coach, Johann van Graan, called the Obano red card “part of the game” but suggested the margins involved under the current high-tackle framework were almost impossibly tight. “I don’t believe that was foul play, I believe that’s a collision between two extremely powerful rugby players,” he said. “[But] ultimately that was the referee’s call and we’ll stick by that. I’m not going to get into the whole red card debate, it’s unfortunate.”

Source: theguardian.com