Lawes lords it in Northampton’s play-off success
Courtney Lawes revealed that he overcame illness to put in another man-of-the-match performance in Northampton Saints’ European Rugby Champions Cup play-off success over Stade Francais tonight.
The 28-year-old British & Irish Lions lock was singled out as a difference-maker for the Saints for a third game in a row after starring in Saints’ inspirational 23-22 comeback victory at Franklin’s Gardens, which came after the home side saw captain Tom Wood sent off in the 63rd minute.
Lawes was delighted to have helped his team secure top-tier European rugby next term, particularly having felt far from fighting fit pre-match.
“I didn’t know whether I was going to play. I was quite ill earlier and I was struggling a bit [in the] first half but I managed to pull through and put it in for the boys,” said Lawes.
“We just stuck together tightly after losing a couple of points in the first half and we managed to pull it back.
“It’s a bit frustrating, obviously – Woody getting the red card – and we had to pull tight for the skips, and we were able to grind out the win.
“It’s what we thrive on – we want to go out there and play the best teams in the world, and we’ve got that opportunity next year, and hopefully we can do a bit better this time.
“The crowd are always amazing [at Franklin’s Gardens] – real loyal supporters – and it’s brilliant to hear them.
“When we’re losing, when we’re winning; they’re always behind us, which is fantastic.”
Lawes’ fellow Lion George North also played a key role in Northampton’s superb success over Stade, the Welsh ace making 168 metres as he helped his team pull off an unlikely turnaround.