Northampton Saints prepare for Bath challenge in Gallagher Premiership final at Twickenham

Northampton Saints' Tommy Freeman and Fin Smith celebrate following the Gallagher Premiership semi-final match at the cinch Stadium at Franklin's Gardens,
Celebrations at Franklin's Gardens

It's the long goodbye and that's just what thousands of rugby fans were hoping for.

England's Courtney Lawes is due to head to France at the end of the season for a new sporting challenge.

But his Brieve encounter will have to wait for at least another week after Northampton Saints booked a place at Twickenham for the Gallagher Premiership final after seeing off Saracens in a thriller.

Lawes is one of four of the Franklin's Gardens favourites to be ending their association with the club this summer.

Joining him in France will be Alex Moon, while Saints Stalwart Alex Waller - together with his brother Ethan - are hanging up their boots for good.

Sarries fought the Lawes, and the Lawes won. Credit: PA Images

Saints, who will face Bath - the team that finished second in the league - in the final, saw off defending champions Saracens on Friday night. It's the first time they have reached the domestic showpiece since their title-winning season of 2014.

A try from Burger Odendaal and the kicking of Fin Smith helped Saints to a 22-20 win, in what also proved to be England fly-half Owne Farrell's last game for Sarries.

There were carnival scenes at Franklin’s Gardens as Northampton players celebrated with the fans and their families, but director of rugby Phil Dowson muted the party atmosphere by declaring they still have a final to win.

“We want to enjoy that because the players are not monks. It’s already quite late and Northampton doesn’t have that many late night salons! So there are limited options for them,” Dowson said.

“Courtney Lawes said in the huddle afterwards ‘that’s great lads, a tough game against really good opposition, but the job’s not done, we want to play well at Twickenham’.”

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Fraser Dingwall said the semi-final win 'meant a lot' and that they were feeling a bit rusty having had a week off from playing.

"There's so much that we can take out of the game and will get better from, but it's an immense feeling to know that we have one more week."

And the Centre added: "Just to say that I'm going to a Premiership final with my boyhood club, that means a lot to me and something I'm going to treasure for a long, long time."

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