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Lawes 'happy to be leaving Saints on own terms'

Courtney Lawes holds the Premiership trophy
Courtney Lawes captained Northampton Saints to their second Premiership title in his final appearance for the club [Getty Images]

Northampton Saints captain Courtney Lawes said he was happy to be "going out on my own terms", after leading the club to their first Premiership title in 10 years.

Saints withstood a spirited fightback from 14-man Bath to win 25-21 at Twickenham in the former England flanker's final appearance for the club.

The league's top two sides were separated by points difference in the Premiership table, so it was fitting a tense final was alive until the final moments as Bath pushed for a last-second winner.

Bare-chested and sporting a pair of white, tinted ski goggles in the post-match media conference, Lawes, who made his debut for the club in 2007, said he was frustrated on the final whistle as Saints "tried so hard to lose the match".

But that feeling quickly turned to joy and pride.

"It's everything you could want as a player," Lawes said.

"I would quite like to do another year but things happen, times change, and I'm going out on my own terms.

"I owe the club so much and it won't be the last time I contribute something to the club."

Northampton players celebrating in the changing room wearing ski goggles
Saints players celebrate with the trophy in their dressing room wearing ski goggles [Getty Images]

Following play-off defeats by eventual champions Leicester Tigers and Saracens in the past two seasons, Saints beat Sarries in this season's semi-final at Franklin's Gardens to reach their first final for 10 years.

Bath had prop Beno Obano sent off after 21 minutes for a high tackle on Juarno Augustus, with referee Christophe Ridley showing the red card after a TMO review.

Saints looked in danger of running away with the match with two quick tries from wingers Tommy Freeman and Ollie Sleightholme - his 15th league score of the season - opening up a 12-point lead.

But Bath fought back to lead 21-18 until scrum-half Alex Mitchell's try put Saints back in front with eight minutes remaining.

Lawes will now depart to play in France with Brive, bringing an end to a 17-year career in Northampton, having already retired from international with 105 England caps.

Alex Waller, Lewis Ludlam and Alex Moon will also leave the club this summer.

'If I get Lions tour call, I'll be there' - Lawes

Courtney Lawes celebrates with Northampton Saints fans
Courtney Lawes made 283 appearances in a 17-year career with Saints [Getty Images]

The 35-year-old said he was not expecting a call-up to the Lions tour of Australia next year but said "I'll be there" if he gets the call.

He was part of the team that won Northampton's only other league title 10 years ago, beating Saracens 24-20 after extra time.

Lawes started that day in the second row and Saints director of rugby Phil Dowson came off the bench.

Dowson said his captain had set the perfect example for his young squad.

"His presence and his confidence that is really obvious throughout the group in games like today, games like last week, games at Croke Park where 'Courts' has been there and done that on the biggest stages so players look to that," he said.

"That's intangible and you can't really put a figure on it, but that has a huge impact on players around the group. He's allowed them to grow and shown them how to play the game."

Bath captain Ben Spencer described him as one of the greatest players in English rugby.

"His ability to keep getting better as he gets older – it takes someone special to do that. Fitting send off for him, he’s an unbelievable talent and player," Spencer said.