As Northampton Saints urgently hurled themselves at Saracens defence, three points down after almost 100 minutes of a pulsating Aviva Premiership Rugby Final, it seemed that a maiden title would remain beyond their grasp.
But with the Sarries defence determined to ensure last year’s runners-up once again fell short, Alex Waller had other ideas.
The replacement prop picked up the ball at the base of a ruck just short of Saracens line and dived under the posts, with the try awarded by the TMO.
Stephen Myler’s conversion made it 24-20 but his kick was lost amid the wave of Saints players, staff and fans who swarmed onto the Twickenham turf.
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It was a day of many firsts with no previous Premiership Rugby Final ever going to extra time and Waller insisted he was confident his historic late score would be confirmed, despite the dreaded wait.
“I was sure I’d scored it but I just wasn’t sure if the cameras had seen it,” he said.
“Thankfully, they did. It was one of the most ferocious games I’ve ever played in and the extra-time took its toll fitness-wise. It was an incredibly tough game.”
The two best sides in England over the 2013/14 season duly delivered a stunning contest that veered back and forth, with the score deadlocked at 14-14 on the final whistle.
Ben Foden’s converted try had given Jim Mallinder’s side a 7-6 lead at the interval, with Saracens responding through two penalties from England fly-half Owen Farrell.
A third Farrell penalty put Mark McCall’s side in front before Saints appeared to have the tie wrapped up through George Pisi’s converted score.
Yet again a Saracens side looking to bounce back after defeat to Toulon in the Heineken Cup Final the previous weekend levelled through Marcelo Bosch’s try only for Charlie Hodgson’s conversion to strike the upright.
Hodgson landed two penalties to Myler’s one in extra time to lead Saracens to the verge of their second title but Saints were not to be denied.
“I think it's a real sense of belief to get over and win,” said Mallinder. “It’s fantastic for the club, it's our first Premiership Rugby title – it is a special moment.
“It's why you come to a big club like Northampton to win trophies like this.”
Meanwhile, Sarries director of rugby McCall admitted: “It's obviously a very painful way for the game to finish the way it finished.
“It's been a brilliant season for us. It's unbelievably disappointing that it ended the way that it ended but as a club we're incredibly strong and healthy moving forwards.”
Northampton Saints 24 Saracens 20 (AET)
Saracens: Goode; Ashton, Bosch, Barritt, Strettle (Wyles 56); Farrell (Hodgson 62), De Kock (Wigglesworth 50); Barrington (Gill 83), Brits, Stevens (Johnston 54); Borthwick, Botha (Hargreaves 50), Brown, Burger (Wray 50), B Vunipola (George 95)
Northampton Saints: Foden; K Pisi (Stephenson 90), G Pisi (Wilson 62), Burrell, North; Myler, Fotuali'I (Dickson 50); Corbisiero (Waller 54), Haywood (Hartley 54), Ma'afu (Mercey 50); Manoa (Day 56), Lawes, Clark (Dowson 56), Wood, Dickinson
Penalties: Farrell 3, Hodgson 2
Tries: Foden, G Pisi, Waller
Conversions: Myler 3
Referee: JP Doyle