Bath United: Aviva A League Champions 2013!

Bath United became Aviva A League Champions tonight with a 20-29 victory over Northampton Wanderers at Franklin's Gardens.

As befitting of a final, both sides were going all out from the kick-off, but it was United who were first on the scoresheet.

A lineout on half-way, well taken by Ryan Caldwell, found its way to Tom Biggs who burst through the midfield to race away and score unopposed under the posts. Tom Heathcote added the extras, giving the visitors an early 0-7 lead.

The home team were straight back in it though, winning a penalty at the scrum just outside the 22. Centre Glen Dickson converted, giving Wanderers their first points of the night. 3-7, 6 minutes.

United came right back at the home side though, and after a neat chip and gather from Nick Abendanon, the fullback found Gavin Henson on the wing who raced down the touchline and just managed to stay in touch to score. A tricky touchline conversion for Heathcote was sent sailing through the posts by the young fly-half. 3-14.

Saints were soon down to 14 men as hooker Mike Haywood was sent to the bin for an infringement at the breakdown. Heathcote sent the ensuing penalty thought the uprights to take the score to 3-17.

Undeterred, Saints went straight back on the counter attack and after some good attacking phases of play, the ball was sent out wide, stretching the United defence too far and Howard Packman went crashing over out wide. Dickson was on target with the conversion to take the score to 10-17.

With half-time fast approaching, an attacking line out for the Wanderers saw them rumble towards the line, only for the referee to bring play back for a penalty and also send Captain Kane Palma-Newport to the bin for pulling down the maul. Penalty after penalty came with the referee eventually losing patience with the away side, awarding the Wanderers a penalty try. Dickson slotted the simple conversion to leave it locked at 17 apiece at half-time.

Half-time Northampton Wanderers 17 Bath United 17

The second half started with the same blistering pace as the first. Back to a full complement of players, United had to defend their lines hard. The defence held firm, and eventually a penalty enabled the visitors to clear their lines.

In an end to end game, United found themselves with an opportunity to attack from a five metre lineout. A huge drive from the powerful Bath pack saw Charlie Beech rumble over. Heathcote made no mistake with the conversion, putting some breathing space between the teams. 17-24.

It was short-lived though, as another infringement from United at the breakdown presented Dickson with a kickable penalty at the other end. He duly converted to keep his side in the game. 20-24.

A very tense last ten minutes saw United throwing everything they had at the Saints defence. After a barnstorming break by Dunn, Richard Lane darted over. Heathcote couldn't convert from a tricky angle, but it gave United a nine-point lead.

The referee signalled that there was time for a restart but United gathered and Heathcote booted the ball into touch much to the delight of the travelling support to seal Bath United's title as Aviva A League Champions 2013.

Final Score: Northampton Wanderers 20 Bath United 29

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