Finn Russell makes Bath vow after painful Northampton defeat and reflects on first season at club

Scotland stand-off unable to guide team to victory after early red card

Finn Russell is convinced Bath will come back stronger next season after the Scotland stand-off and his team-mates suffered a heart-breaking defeat by Northampton Saints in the Gallagher Premiership final.

A late try by Alex Mitchell secured a 25-21 victory that ended Bath’s defiant response to Beno Obano’s red card. Obano was sent-off with almost an hour of the final left to play for a high tackle on Juarno Augustus that referee Christophe Ridley said presented a high level of danger with no mitigation.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Bath sacrificed Alfie Barbeary to bring on replacement prop Juan Schoeman, stripping them of a second key ball carrier and in theory the ability to play anything more ambitious than a spoiling game, yet they rallied courageously. Tries by Tommy Freeman and Ollie Sleightholme inflicted some initial wounds, but they recovered to hit back through touch downs from Thomas du Toit and Will Muir and the boot of Russell to lead 21-18 with 13 minutes left.

Northampton have been the Premiership’s standout team this season, operating with multiple strings to their bow but primarily a cutting edge in attack, yet they went into their shells as Bath took control It took the tackle-busting ability of 21-year-old replacement wing George Hendy and support work of Mitchell to eventually break their opponents, who saw Sam Underhill lead a remarkable defensive effort.

Hendy was named man of the match as Northampton said a triumphant farewell to Courtney Lawes, Alex Waller, Lewis Ludlam and Alex Moon, but Bath’s side was also full of worthy performances including half-backs Ben Spencer and Russell.


The Scotland No 10 said: "It's not sunk in yet and it's tough to take. The performance that we showed today in the circumstances, we can be very proud of that. I can imagine 20 minutes in, people would have been writing us off, especially when they got a couple of quick tries, but it showed the character that we've built this season, the belief and what we've got to look forward to for the next few seasons.”

Asked about Bath's psychology after the red card, Russell continued: "We just had to deal with the situation in front of us. You've got to adapt and you've got to grow. It's tough for Ben that he got the red card. We gave everything out there. We changed a few things, line-outs and scrums, but overall we stuck to what we have done over the season. I think the courage and bravery we showed out there was outstanding.

"We'll have a night together, celebrate the season that we've had. It's obviously not the ending that we wanted. Every time you get to a semi or a final, you learn from it  - win or lose. We were in a bit of control at the end of the game there, but it showed when we were attacking, we didn't have much left in the legs, so it's hard to break a team like Northampton. But come next season we will be in a better place. I think everyone at this club will grow from today.”

Russell has now completed his first season for Bath and he added: "For me, it's the first time playing for a club that's a rugby city club, if that makes any sense. Bath is an amazing rugby city and it's been amazing playing in front of the home crowd. I think we've put a lot of character back into this club and the fans have helped us along the way. They've been there through thick and thin and the performance today shows how much the club means to the boys. That's all we can do for the fans and I hope they are proud.”

Related topics:



Want to join the conversation? Please or to comment on this article.