Tom Vickers’ Aviva Premiership Final view and player ratings

GLORY BOYS - Saints celebrate their title triumph (Pictures: Kirsty Edmonds)
GLORY BOYS - Saints celebrate their title triumph (Pictures: Kirsty Edmonds)

This was for all of the seasons when supporters dared to dream. For all the years they told others that this was their team’s time. For all the years when those prophecies didn’t come true.

This was for those routinely melancholy months of May. For the heartbreaking Heineken Cup final defeat to Leinster in 2011. For last year’s Premiership showpiece loss to Leicester.

Northampton Saints v Saracens at Twickenham for the Aviva Premiership Rugby Final 2014. NNL-140106-093734009

Northampton Saints v Saracens at Twickenham for the Aviva Premiership Rugby Final 2014. NNL-140106-093734009

This was for the tortuous play-off semi-final defeat at home to Saracens in 2010. For the excruciating play-off semi-final loss at Tigers in 2011. For the harrowing defeat at Harlequins in 2012.

This was for all those times when victory was just seconds away, yet snatched so cruelly from Saints’ grasp. This was a season when the tables turned.

This was for the Barwell family. For Leon who would have been looking down with a smile etched on his face. The late chairman did so much to steer the ship out of choppy waters last season.

This was for every question Leon answered and acted upon at the fans’ forum in February last year. For all the hours he put in to bring the likes of George North and Alex Corbisiero to this town.

Northampton Saints v Saracens at Twickenham for the Aviva Premiership Rugby Final 2014. NNL-140106-092524009

Northampton Saints v Saracens at Twickenham for the Aviva Premiership Rugby Final 2014. NNL-140106-092524009

This was for Keith Barwell, the man who has poured money into the club’s coffers since the early days of professionalism. This was for every time his commitment looked like it wouldn’t be rewarded with the Premiership trophy it merited.

This was for young Luis Ghaut, who bravely battled his illness to ensure he would be able to walk out alongside his heroes at Twickenham. The inspirational mascot deserved a celebration. He got one.

Who else was this for?

This was for all of those men who weren’t able to play a part in the final. For Tom Collins, Ethan Waller, Ross McMillan and many, many more who helped put the club in position for a Premiership final appearance.

Northampton Saints v Saracens at Twickenham for the Aviva Premiership Rugby Final 2014. NNL-140106-092038005

Northampton Saints v Saracens at Twickenham for the Aviva Premiership Rugby Final 2014. NNL-140106-092038005

This was for all those coaches who have worked so intently to bring players through the Saints system. For all those who have ensured the potential of players like Courtney Lawes and Alex Waller, whose last-gasp try won the title for his home town club, was realised.

This is for Jim Mallinder. For Dorian West. Two men who have been steadily building to this deafening crescendo since arriving at Franklin’s Gardens in 2007.

The gamut of emotion on their faces told the tale. The hours they have put in to restore their club among the elite deserved this. This was for them.

And this was, of course, for all of those who have supported this club through thick and thin. For everyone who helped pack out the Gardens even when their side was relegated to England’s second tier.

Northampton Saints v Saracens at Twickenham for the Aviva Premiership Rugby Final 2014. NNL-140106-092027005

Northampton Saints v Saracens at Twickenham for the Aviva Premiership Rugby Final 2014. NNL-140106-092027005

This was for those who don the green, black and gold (or lime) and travel mile after mile to drive their team on in the toughest of away games. For those who were at Exeter, at Newcastle and many other stops on the route to Premiership glory.

This was for every time these players have been labelled bridesmaids. For every time the likes of Leicester and Saracens have celebrated, while Saints took a seat in the shadows.

This day at Twickenham, this 100 minutes of intense, bone-crunching rugby, was worth it, because Saints brought home the trophy.

No more are they the nearly men. They are the main men. They are the champions of England..

How they rated...

BEN FODEN

Northampton Saints v Saracens at Twickenham for the Aviva Premiership Rugby Final 2014. NNL-140106-093511005

Northampton Saints v Saracens at Twickenham for the Aviva Premiership Rugby Final 2014. NNL-140106-093511005

Put his body on the line to stop a try as Chris Wyles galloped towards him, and was also hugely effective in attack, making some intelligent breaks and capping a fine display with a try... 8

KEN PISI

The Samoan wing stepped up in this game, with one lightning burst from his own half the catalyst for Foden’s first-half score. A good all round display from a player who has grown in stature... 8

GEORGE PISI

Was big in defence and also showed good awareness to latch on to a grubber kick to grab a crucial second-half score... 8

LUTHER BURRELL

Has immense power in his legs and kept going and going, trying to push Saracens back and claim the momentum for his side... 8

GEORGE NORTH

Always comes to the fore in big games and this was no different as the Wales wing was a great get-out option for his team, making more metres than any other Saints player... 8

STEPHEN MYLER

What a season for the fly-half, who has been instrumental in his side’s successes. This was no different as he kicked well and provided plenty of creativity... 8

KAHN FOTUALI’I

Saints have such a wealth of talent at scrum-half, with this man battling Lee Dickson for the shirt, and both players put in a good shift... 7

ALEX CORBISIERO

Wasn’t helped by Matt Stevens’ scrummaging technique, but won his battles and ensured Saracens weren’t allowed to dominate up front... 7

MIKE HAYWOOD

A memorable campaign for the young hooker, who has been so valuable to Saints. His accuracy was once again good here and he continues to get better and better... 7

SALESI MA’AFU

Relished his first Premiership final as he took on Richard Barrington up front and gave the Saracens man a run for his money. A good first season for the Australian... 7

SAMU MANOA

Has revelled in games against Saracens in the past and though he wasn’t able to add to his try tally against the Londoners, he put in a big shift in defence... 7

COURTNEY LAWES – CHRON STAR MAN

Made some huge hits, notably on Charlie Hodgson, and was immense in defence and attack. Carried the ball and carried the fight to Saracens throughout... 9

CALUM CLARK

Put everything he had into this game and his work in defence was important. The flanker’s appetite drives those around him on... 7

TOM WOOD

A sensational end to the season for the England star who has led by example when it mattered and fully deserves all the success that has come his way... 8

SAM DICKINSON

This man loves a big hit and he doesn’t pick on the smallest of players, either. His contest with Billy Vunipola was fascinating and he was so, so impressive... 9

Replacements (who played more than 20 minutes)

TOM MERCEY (for Ma’afu 51)

Always a good option to bring off the bench and he put in a typically strong performance in the scrum as well as doing his bit in defence... 7

LEE DICKSON (for Fotuali’i 51)

Added extra tempo when he came on and the spark of the England scrum-half was key to Saints’ ability to put pressure on Saracens late on... 7

ALEX WALLER (for Corbisiero 55)

What a story. The local lad got the glory as he went over in the last few seconds of the match to win the title for his team. A fitting end to a fine season for the prop... 8

DYLAN HARTLEY (for Haywood 55)

The captain added nous and his determination to drive his team over the line was gargantuan. He won turnovers when it mattered and was part of a momentous effort... 8

CHRISTIAN DAY (for Manoa 57)

So experienced in the big-match environment and this man’s stability was key as Saints shut the door on Saracens and eventually got over the line to earn the glory... 7

PHIL DOWSON (for Clark 57)

Another experienced campaigner who always adds plenty when he comes on. Stood tall in defence and tried to use his strength to subdue the Saracens attack... 7

Northampton Saints v Saracens at Twickenham for the Aviva Premiership Rugby Final 2014. NNL-140106-093409005

Northampton Saints v Saracens at Twickenham for the Aviva Premiership Rugby Final 2014. NNL-140106-093409005