ESPN SCRUM

/ Amlin Challenge Cup 2013-14

/ Match Pack

Amlin Challenge Cup
Saints battle back to win Challenge Cup
ESPN Staff
May 23, 2014
Date/Time: May 23, 2014, 20:00 local, 19:00 GMT
Venue: Cardiff Arms Park
Bath Rugby 16 - 30 Northampton Saints
Half-time: 13 - 6
Tries: Watson
Cons: Ford
Pens: Ford 3
Tries: Dowson, Foden
Cons: Myler
Pens: Myler 6
Northampton hold aloft the Amlin Challenge Cup, Bath Rugby v Northampton Saints, Amlin Challenge Cup Final, Cardiff Arms Park, May 23, 2014
Northampton celebrate their Challenge Cup triumph
© Getty Images
Enlarge
Related Links

Northampton Saints won the last ever Amlin Challenge Cup thanks to a 30-16 win over Bath at the Cardiff Arms Park on Friday evening.

Stephen Myler booted six penalties from six attempts and converted substitute Phil Dowson's 71st-minute try for a 20-point haul as Saints prevailed 30-16, with full-back Ben Foden confirming victory when he touched down four minutes from time. In contrast, Myler's opposite number George Ford missed three successive penalty chances on the artificial playing surface after converting Anthony Watson's first-half touchdown.

England coach Stuart Lancaster looked on as Ford, who will miss the three-Test tour of New Zealand next month due to impending shoulder surgery, lost his radar. He did kick three penalties but Myler, who looks set to be among England's number 10s in All Blacks country, showed him how it should be done with a masterclass.

It ended Northampton's run of four successive defeats in major finals - one Heineken, one Premiership and two LV= Cups - and they will not be short on confidence heading into next week's domestic title showpiece against Saracens at Twickenham. They clawed back to 13-12 adrift approaching the hour-mark, then two more Myler penalties to one by Ford edged Northampton ahead before Dowson and Foden pounced in quick succession.

It denied Bath a first piece of silverware since they beat 2008 Challenge Cup final opponents Worcester, but it was Saints' second Challenge Cup triumph in six seasons. Northampton were without suspended prop Silesi Ma'afu, who was sent off in last week's Premiership play-off victory over Leicester, so Tom Mercey deputised, and there was also a start for British and Irish Lions Test loosehead Alex Corbisiero.

Bath fielded 21-year-old understudy hooker Tom Dunn in the absence of Rob Webber and Ross Batty, but South African flanker Francois Louw returned from injury for his first appearance in almost two months.

Myler lays the foundations for Saints' win

  • The Northampton Saints will go to Twickenham next weekend with one half of the double jigsaw hammered into place. Stephen Myler's pinpoint kicking laid the foundations for their win over Bath but it was the power of their backline that proved too much for Bath in the end.
  • It was a scrappy match, with at times both teams' bread and butter set pieces letting them down but the Saints seemed to have another gear in the final throws of the match. At the centre of it all was Luther Burrell who put in a magnificent performance in front of the watching Stuart Lancaster.
  • Read the full verdict here

Ford, who had been the pre-match centre of attention, underlined his worth to Bath by booting a second-minute penalty from just inside his own half, but that strike was quickly cancelled out when Myler landed a short-range kick. Ford and Myler exchanged further penalties during a tight, tense opening quarter, but Bath then struck with the game's opening try 13 minutes before half-time.

Northampton were knocked back in attack inside Bath's own half when Jonathan Joseph completed a crunching tackle on Saints wing Ken Pisi, and Watson gathered possession before he sprinted 60 metres unopposed to touch down. Ford's conversion took Bath 13-6 ahead, and they should also have had a temporary one-man advantage when Northampton skipper Tom Wood pushed Louw over off the ball as Bath attacked.

Referee Jerome Garces awarded Bath a penalty that Ford missed, but he opted not to award a yellow card that England flanker Wood's indiscretion warranted. Northampton did not learn their lesson, though, and three minutes after the break Corbisiero was sin-binned for tackling Bath captain Stuart Hooper off the ball, but Ford again drifted his kick wide.

Myler then completed his penalty hat-trick and it was the cue for Bath boss Mike Ford to make his first change as scrum-half Peter Stringer replaced Micky Young before Ford missed with another shot at goal. Ford's inaccuracy off the kicking tee came as an unexpected bonus for Northampton, and it meant they were still in a game that Bath should have been on the verge of closing out.

But Bath substitute prop Anthony Perenise was yellow-carded 10 minutes from time and Northampton made them pay instantly when Dowson was driven over from a lineout and Myler's conversion sealed the deal. A Myler interception of Ford's pass then had Bath retreating rapidly in defence, and although supporting centre Luther Burrell slipped with the line at his mercy, Saints had enough players in support for assist Foden and Garces awarded the try on confirmation from television match official Eric Gauzins.

Bath were finished and it meant they ended a season that promised so much as losing Amlin finalists just two weeks after they finished fifth in the Premiership and missed out on the play-offs.

© Getty Images
Enlarge
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd

Live Sports

Communication error please reload the page.

  • Latest
  • Most Viewed
  • News
  • Features
  • Rugby

    George North knocked out during Saints win

    Northampton star George North was knocked unconscious after scoring two tries during the Saints' 52-30 Aviva Premiership victory over London Wasps on Friday

  • Football

    Russia goalkeeper Igor Akinfeev hit by flare

    Russia's match at Montenegro was temporarily suspended shortly after kick-off when Russian goalkeeper Igor Akinfeev appeared to be struck by a flare fired from the stands

  • Golf

    Fleetwood in Masters contention as Sullivan misses out

    George Coetzee and Tommy Fleetwood remained in contention to secure a place in the Masters as Andy Sullivan, Alexander Levy, Marcel Siem and Ross Fisher all missed out in Morocco

  • Tennis

    Murray cruises into Miami Open third round

    Andy Murray made a solid start in his quest for a third Miami Open title as he dispatched Donald Young to reach the third round in Florida

  • Football

    Kevin De Bruyne would consider Chelsea return

    Kevin De Bruyne would consider a move back to Chelsea despite barely featuring in his time at Stamford Bridge, sources told ESPN

  • Formula One

    Tough at the top

    Who has driven in the most GPs before taking pole position?

  • Formula 1

    F1 cost cutting: Not putting money where the mouth is

    Mudslinging and an agreement on something that will never happen, it's all in a day's work for a Formula One boss, as Maurice Hamilton explains...

  • Rugby

    Unsavoury sledging did not end with Potgieter

    Fallout continues from the NSW-Brumbies derby, with one Tahs forward - not Potgieter - surprised by other unsavoury comments during the game, Greg Growden reports

  • Rugby

    Super Rugby preview, team news, line-ups: Round 7

    Greg Growden previews Super Rugby round 7. We've also got key stats, team news and all the line-ups to inform your ESPN Footytips Super Rugby picks

  • Formula 1

    Storm clouds gather in Malaysia

    Will Mercedes dominate again? Can anybody catch up with the help of a rainstorm? And will the Red Bull/Renault relationship tear itself apart? All those questions and more will be answered at this weekend's Malaysian Grand Prix

  • News
  • Features
  • Inside Boxing

    'I've sparred with Klitschko and Fury - now I want Joshua'

    Unbeaten heavyweight Dillian Whyte, 28, (14-0, 11 KOs) tells ESPN where his rivalry with Anthony Joshua stems from and outlines the plan for his career this year after returning from a doping ban in November

  • UFC

    Top 10 best UFC fighters of all time

    Some of the best fighters to ever glove up have plied their trade in the Octagon - now ESPN list the 10 best who have fought under the UFC banner

  • Ask Steven

    Home front

    Who was the first Briton to win the British Grand Prix?

  • Ask Steven

    Pointless drivers

    Where does Anthony Davidson's record of 24 Grands Prix without a point rank him?

  • Ask Steven

    Home favourites

    How many F1 drivers have had one win, but done it at their home Grand Prix?

Sponsored Links

Make Huge Income from your Home
Download your Free Guide And Learn How To Increase Your Monthly Income