9:56pm Friday 23rd May 2014
By Chris Kirwan
NORTHAMPTON emerged victorious from the last Amlin Challenge Cup final after putting the boot into Bath with a second half comeback at Cardiff Arms Park.
The Saints trailed 13-6 at half-time but fought back to win 30-16 and give themselves a lift ahead of next weekend’s Aviva Premiership final against Saracens.
The West Country side – who did the double against Newport Gwent Dragons in the pool stages – were left to rue the shocking kicking of fly-half George Ford from the tee.
His three costly misses enabled Northampton, who dropped into the tournament after failing to qualify for the quarter-finals of the Heineken Cup, to work their way back into the game before sealing the win with tries by England pair Phil Dowson and Ben Foden.
Bath deservedly led 13-6 at the break thanks to a breakaway try by wing Anthony Watson after some impressive defence and eight points from the Ford, who was playing with a shoulder injury.
Myler knocked over a pair of penalties for the Saints but they were kept on the back foot by Ford’s impressive punting.
However, the diminutive England man was not as accurate from the tee and a pair of misses either side of the break ensured Northampton were still in touch.
The Saints had a spell down to 14 men courtesy of Lions loosehead Alex Corbisiero’s yellow card for a late hit on Bath lock Stuart Hooper but emerged from the 10-minute spell three points to the good, Myler bisecting the points before yet another Ford miss.
The momentum was with the Saints courtesy of Bath’s misfiring 10 and they were in front 18-13 after 64 minutes thanks to three penalties by their unerring pivot.
The West Country side kept faith with their fly-half and it paid off when he made it a two-point game only for Northampton to strike straight back, kicking penalties to the corner before flanker Phil Dowson piled over with Myler making it 25-16 with eight minutes left.
And it was game over when Ben Foden finished off a breakaway from an interception inside their own 22.
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