Flanker Tom Wood believes having a raucous home crowd on their side was a huge advantage for Northampton Saints in securing victory in the inaugural Premiership Rugby Cup final.
The men in Black, Green and Gold claimed their first piece of silverware since 2014 with a 23-9 win over Saracens on Sunday afternoon.
Saints scored three tries in the first-half with Teimana Harrison, Wood and Ahsee Tuala all dotting down, before Chris Boyd's side extended their lead in the second-half through James Grayson and Piers Francis penalties.
“I’ve been here a decade and never had an opportunity to play a final at home in front of your fans, so it’s a pretty unique thing.”Tom Wood
Several of Northampton's skirmishes with Saracens have been bruising in recent seasons, and so Wood was delighted to get the better of their old adversaries with a trophy on the line in front of the Franklin's Gardens faithful.
“It was awesome. We’ve had some big nights in my time here and we’ve had some disappointments as well,” he said.
“Saracens traditionally have been one of those teams that we’ve played in knockout rugby and we’ve scalped each other and hurt each other in various semi-finals when we’re underdogs.
“But they’ve humiliated us to be honest over the last couple of years, so it’s nice to be able to fire a shot and get one off our back and it’s brilliant to be able to do it in front of our home fans.
“We really heard them [on Sunday] and when you’re digging deep that’s exactly what you need; it was a big advantage with a sellout crowd and so many coming to support us and the youngsters.
Brilliant n rare opportunity to play a cup final at home yesterday.The sell out crowd made for a great atmosphere. Chuffed for the young lads to get some silverware after stepping up for us all season. Modest celebrations tho, back to work today ready for Leicester Friday night pic.twitter.com/JT5zM25SW5— Tom Wood (@tomwood678) March 18, 2019
“They’ve worked really hard all year and have had to fill some pretty big shoes of senior boys that are missing, so it’s a great reward for them.
“I was talking to the boys before the game how I’ve been here a decade and never had an opportunity to play a final at home in front of your fans, so it’s a pretty unique thing and it’s awesome that we got it across the line.”
However, Wood admitted the team had to curb their celebrations slightly with the Gallagher Premiership returning as soon as Friday evening, with a massive East Midlands Derby clash at Leicester Tigers in store.
He added: “The games just keep coming thick and fast, and they never get any easier.
“It’s a short turnaround as well, so we’ll have to hold on to this one for a little while and perhaps to celebrate it after a win at Welford Road would be nice.”