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Match Report: Northampton Saints 30 Harlequins 22

30 Sep 2017
Match Report: Northampton Saints 30 Harlequins 22

Northampton Saints moved themselves to the Aviva Premiership Rugby summit despite Harlequins making them work hard for a 30-22 triumph.

The hosts shaded a topsy-turvy first half 19-15, with George North, Tom Collins and Mike Haywood all going over at Franklin’s Gardens.

Aaron Morris and Jamie Roberts had kept Quins alive in the first period, but after Ahsee Tuala wrapped up Saints’ third try-bonus point on the bounce just after half-time, Dave Ward’s try had the home fans biting their nails until the final whistle.

Saints got themselves off to the perfect start as winger North scored a trademark try after seven minutes.

Nic Groom’s darting run set up an attacking lineout for Saints, and North capitalised from the driving maul, shrugging off one tackle and bulldozing through two more to cross the whitewash.

But that lead did not last long; after Saints advanced up the field from the kick-off it was a moment to forget for Luther Burrell. His loose pass was picked off by Morris, who ran all of 80 metres to score – with Marcus Smith converting well.

Northampton were back in front after 22 minutes however, building the pressure well deep in Quins territory before Tom Collins seared through the visitors’ line on a reverse ball from Harry Mallinder – who converted the winger’s try to make it 12-7.

The hosts continued to enjoy all the territory, and after Smith landed a mid-range penalty five minutes from the break, all hell broke loose.

First, a sublime handling move from the Saints involving Teimana Harrison, Nic Groom, Tuala and Courtney Lawes sent Haywood over for a fine score.

But after Smith missed a penalty in front of the posts, play went on with the clock ticking into the red and Quins hauled themselves back into the contest with Roberts running a straight line to touch down.

However, after ending the half brilliantly the Londoners had the worst possible start after the interval, with Tuala catching them cold and winning the race for Groom’s chip through to ground the bonus-point try.

Mallinder then hit the post with a penalty after Charlie Matthews was pinged for a high tackle, but the No.10 made no mistake shortly after as Kyle Sinckler gave him another shot for pulling off Michael Paterson’s scrum-cap.

Marland Yarde looked determined to score on his 100th Aviva Premiership appearance, but was bundled into touch five metres out on 54 minutes, but Quins skipper Ward set up a grandstand finish ten minutes later as he touched down from a driving maul.

Quins huffed and puffed but could not breach the home defence in the final ten minutes, with Stephen Myler then adding insult to injury and denying them a bonus point as he knocked a late scrum penalty through the uprights.