Northampton Saints 32 Worcester Warriors 24: Tom Vickers' review and player ratings
After 12 minutes of Saturday's game at Franklin's Gardens, it looked like someone had forgotten to invite the Saints players to the leaving party.
Worcester Warriors ran riot during the opening stages, fizzing the ball about and scoring two tries as they surged into a 14-0 lead.
Their cause was helped by a sin-binning of Ben Foden, just 90 seconds after he and his two children had led Saints out onto the field for his 250th and final appearance for the club.
The Champagne was firmly on ice for Foden when referee Luke Pearce consulted his TMO and found there had been a deliberate knock-on.
And for the next 10 minutes, Saints looked as flat as a cake that had failed to rise.
But, finally, when the long-serving star returned to the field, the hosts arrived, the music started to come from the stands and Foden and Co danced to their own beat, just as they had dreamed of in the week leading up to this Gardens gathering.
What looked like being a hugely disappointing ending to some glittering Saints careers eventually turned into the most fitting of farewells.
Foden bounced back from his early yellow card by delivering a virtuoso display that left some wondering whether he and the club could turn back time and renew their relationship.
The 32-year-old scored a trademark try from his favoured full-back position, showing a good turn of pace and that typical awareness of where the gaps are in an opposition defence to race in for a magic moment.
Cries of 'Foden, Foden, Foden' echoed around the Gardens as the man in the 15 shirt was mobbed by his team-mates.
And with Foden now really up and running, Worcester had little answer when he danced past a player, drew another and offloaded for another fans' favourite, Tom Collins, to sprint in for a score that ensured Saints were in control.
They still needed to finish things off.
And that was when Stephen Myler's apt moment arrived.
The fly-half, who has played an incredible 330 games for Northampton, emerged from the bench 10 minutes from time to an outstanding ovation.
And when Saints were awarded a penalty in opposition territory with a minute to go, the script was written.
Myler, as he has so many times since moving to Saints from rugby league side Salford City Reds in 2006, stepped up and sent the ball between the posts to make the win safe.
And seconds later, he was booting the ball into the Tetley's Stand, just as he did on that unforgettable night when Leicester Tigers were tamed on the way to Twickenham in 2014.
How right it was that Foden, Myler and George North, men who played huge parts in securing Saints' first Premiership title, should finish in triumphant fashion.
They are winners, who have delivered during some key times in the black, green and gold.
And they did so again here.
The presentation ceremony, which included a moving shirt handover to retiring duo Rob Horne and Christian Day, was an emotional way to end an emotional day at the Gardens.
The season may be over.
And so may the Northampton careers of a few true Saintsmen.
But memories of what they have achieved will never leave the Gardens.
How they rated...
BEN FODEN - CHRON STAR MAN
What a player this man has been for Northampton Saints! And he finished things off in fantastic fashion with a fine try and even better assist... 10
One of Saints' Premiership winners, he has produced some big performances in the black, green and gold, but wasn't involved too often here... 6
Etched his name on the scoresheet and with his future still uncertain, you would think Saints will try to keep him as he rarely lets the side down and regularly scores... 7
Showed some glimpses of his obvious attacking ability, including providing the try for Tuitavake... 7
Finished the chance that came his way well and his only fault was that he was perhaps a little too eager to impress at times... 7
Another good experience for the young fly-half, who has displayed his potential for the Wanderers and didn't lack confidence here, producing a lovely first-half shimmy... 7
The scrum-half was guilty of letting Worcester in as he misjudged a high ball, but he was typically lively in attack... 6
Has been back in the team after injury and is not showing signs of fatigue as he continues to produce for Saints... 7
Another energetic performance from the hooker, who plays just as big a part in attack as he does in defence... 7
Another man playing his final game for Saints, the prop wasn't lacking in effort as he battled in the sun... 6
Tried to blast holes in the Worcester defence with some big carries and continues to be a useful member of the side... 7
Has enjoyed a good run in the team towards the end of the season and this was a steady enough showing... 6
Will be the big favourite for the player of the season prize at Thursday's awards dinner and this was another good display... 7
Just doesn't seem to get tired as he relentlessly throws himself into contact, with and without the ball... 8
Has got the game time he wanted in recent weeks and will be looking forward to a big season next time round... 7
Replacements (who played more than 20 minutes)
PAUL HILL (for Brookes 59)
Was given the final 20 minutes and with Saints on top, his role was more about ensuring they maintained their freshness and momentum... 6
Replacements (who played more than 11 years at Saints)
Deserved to finish his time at Saints on a high. Has delivered time and again, and there have been few players who can match his consistency and composure under pressure... 10