NEC Harlequins completed a league double over Northampton Saints this season thanks to a 28-15 victory in their Guinness Premiership clash at Franklins Gardens. 13 points from the boot of Adrian Jarvis and a try from Steve So'oialo, Quins third of the match, in the final minute secured the visitors their win and at the same time denied the home side a crucial bonus point in their fight to avoid relegation.
The visitors got off to a dream start, despite losing Stuart Abbott to injury soon after the kick-off. From a lineout in the Saints twenty-two, Gomarsall charged down an attempted clearance from fly half Carlos Spencer and the Quins scrum half was the first to the loose ball to claim the try. Jarvis converted to put Quins seven points in front with just four minutes on the clock.
After Jarvis missed a long range penalty attempt, both sides were reduced to 14 men with Quins captain Paul Volley and Northampton's second row Christian Short sent to the sin-bin for fighting. However, a few minutes later and Northampton put their first points on the board.
With the visitors conceding a couple of penalties in quick succession it resulted in Northampton winning a lineout close to the Quins line, where number eight Paul Tupai was driven over for the five points. Spencer missed the conversion meaning the home side trailed by two points at the halfway stage (5-7).
Straight from the restart and Northampton took the lead for the first and only time in the game. Winger Ben Cohen received the kick-off from Jarvis and broke through a number of tackles before winning the race to the try line just ahead of Ugo Monye. Full back Bruce Reihana took over the kicking duties and his successful conversion put the Saints five points ahead (12-7).
Quins hit back minutes later after winning possession from a scrum. The ball went wide to Strettle, who stepped inside Cohen before scoring in the corner to level the score at 12-all. Jarvis missed the difficult conversion from wide out before Hal Luscombe just failed to touchdown a chip ahead from Monye.
Nevertheless, Jarvis then kicked his first penalty of the afternoon to put the visitors back in front, with the Saints flanker Darren Fox receiving a yellow card for a professional foul. Jarvis kicked another penalty seven minutes later to put Quins six points ahead (12-18) at the start of the final quarter. Reihana cut the deficit back to three points (15-18) with 12 minutes remaining, only for Jarvis to cancel this score out in similar fashion soon after before Quins settled the outcome just a minute from time.
Mel Deane made a break deep into the Saints half, where Strettle was in support to take play up to the try line. From the resulting ruck, So'oialo attacked the blind side and dived over in the corner for the decisive try. An excellent conversion from Jarvis close to the touchline completed the scoring in the match and was soon followed by the final whistle.
During week commencing 22nd April Harlequins will launch an innovative, new Membership Scheme which will replace the existing Season Ticket Holder Programme. Further details of the scheme will be announced in due course.