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Harlequins 25 Northampton Saints 30 Harlequins 25 Northampton Saints 30

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Harlequins 25 Northampton Saints 30

Samu Manoa scored one and set up another as Northampton Saints kept hold of top spot in Aviva Premiership Rugby with a 30-25 defeat of Harlequins in front of a sold out Twickenham crowd.

Manoa, who will depart for French giants Toulon next season, scored Northampton’s first try from a line out and driving maul in the first half before assisting George North’s after the break.

Stephen Myler, himself having committed to Saints by signing a new contract, converted all three of Northampton’s tries along with three penalties as they actually came from behind to win.

George Lowe put Quins ahead inside six minutes while Jack Clifford and Sam Twomey tries kept the contest alive late in the second half but Kahn Fotuali’i’s 72nd-minute score in between was decisive.

Lowe started and finished a multi-phase move for the first score of the match, Marland Yarde feeding Mike Brown before the 25-year-old finished in the right corner.

Swiel missed the conversion from the touchline but didn’t with a penalty in the tenth minute, which was responded to by Myler moments later for Northampton’s first points.

And, with that penalty, Northampton were to gain the upper hand in the contest as a line out won by Sam Dickinson was held by Manoa at the back of the maul before he picked a time to go over.

Myler converted to give the Saints a 10-8 lead before Lowe was involved again after the half-hour, the recipient of a high tackle from Salesi Ma’afu that resulted in a yellow card for the prop.

Quins continued to dominate the possession but it was Northampton who kept the scoreboard ticking with Myler slotting his second penalty in the 37th minute to make it 13-8.

Swiel had a nightmare start to the second half, first missing a relatively straightforward penalty and then seeing a kicked charged down by Manoa as Northampton scored a second try.

Manoa blocked Swiel’s poor kick then beat Matt Hopper to the chase for the ball and with North flying from behind he offloaded with Myler converting once again.

Swiel did redeem himself of sorts though moments later with a fine tap tackle on Ken Pisi who was breaking away on the right after a poor pass from England international Danny Care.

The 21-year-old was then profitable with a penalty to cut Northampton’s deficit to 20-11 but Myler extended it back to 12 with his third successful three-point attempt.

The good kept coming from Swiel though and he inspired Quins’ second try on the hour as he made a decisive pierce of the Northampton defence that would lead to Clifford’s score.

Once Swiel went through and couldn’t quite reach over, it was backs to the wall for Saints and, with the left being well guarded, the ball was switched to the right and Clifford burst through to get Quins back.

Swiel converted for 23-18 but Saints soon put the Quins defence under pressure and, while Alex Corbisiero squandered an opportunity at the line, Fotuali’i didn’t in the 72nd minute.

Myler converted again but Quins wouldn’t go down quietly and responded through a converted Twomey score with a matter of minutes left for a losing bonus point at least.

Bath Rugby’s defeat of Exeter Chiefs had put them top of the Aviva Premiership Rugby table but Northampton responded with a determined defensive display against Quins.

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