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'That was the worst we have played for a long time in that 60 minutes'

By PA
(Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images)

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Northampton boss Chris Boyd admitted that Saints had used their get out of jail card after claiming an unlikely 36-31 Gallagher Premiership victory over Bath.

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Boyd’s team looked down and out when they trailed by 19 points early in the final quarter, but substitute hooker Mike Haywood’s try during the final seconds secured a bonus-point win and a first league success at Bath since 2015.

It took Northampton into the Premiership play-off zone above rivals Exeter and Gloucester, and champions Harlequins are next up for them in six days’ time.

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“I thought we were terrible in the first 60 minutes,” Northampton rugby director Boyd said.

“That was the worst we have played for a long time in that 60 minutes, but we managed to rally and step over at the end. I am very proud of the character shown by the guys at the end.

“We are pleased to take the five points and get the Rec (Recreation Ground) bogey off our back, but it was a horrible first 60 minutes.”

Asked what the atmosphere was like at half-time, Boyd added: “It was a little bit blue, a little bit testy. We created very few chances, and those we created we butchered.

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“It went out to 31-12, and at that stage I thought the season was over and we were just going to be playing for pride.

“The boys know that they have used their get out of jail card, and we won’t get that opportunity against Harlequins on Friday or Saracens in the game after that. We know we have to be way better than that.

“Quins and Saracens will pose different problems, that’s why they are sitting in second and third in the table.”

Northampton were without their suspended Wales captain Dan Biggar and injured England skipper Courtney Lawes, but tries from Alex Mitchell and Tommy Freeman, plus a 76th-minute penalty try, hauled them level before Haywood’s clincher.

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Bath finished the game down to 12 men after all the replacements had been used, as Josh Bayliss went off injured and Jaco Coetzee, then Semesa Rokoduguni, were yellow-carded during the closing seconds.

Scrum-half Ben Spencer’s try double, plus touchdowns from centre Max Clark and wing Will Muir, looked to have been enough to send Saints packing, while Spencer and his half-back partner Danny Cipriani each kicked two conversions, and Cipriani added a penalty.

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Centre Matt Proctor and number eight Juarno Augustus scored earlier Northampton tries to end a run of six successive league defeats at Bath, as the home side ultimately suffered their 16th loss in a wretched Premiership season.

Bath head coach Neal Hatley said: “At 31-12, there shouldn’t be a way back into the game for them. I am really frustrated. It wasn’t good enough.

“We lost Josh Bayliss injured, then we had Jaco Coetzee in the sin-bin, so with 13 men, there is going to be a little bit of panic.

“There were some good bits, but that is the issue. The good bits are very good, but the drop-off is startling.

“When we’ve been good, we have been very good, and when we haven’t been very good it has been very bad.”

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