20 May 13
Harlequins' Prop Will Collier talks you through the perfect line-out lift
When the fly-half knocked over a late drop goal, Harlequins' only hope of victory was through a converted try.
The side showed great belief to work their way up field at the death and following the sin binning of Ethan Waller, the visitors immediately made their numerical advantage count as Botica scored and converted for a 30-31 win.
The game started at a fast pace in the dry but cool conditions at Franklin's Gardens. Following an early score from Lamb's boot Smith scored his first try. With the home side in possession, a wayward pass from Lamb was too much for Paul Doran-Jones to take and he knocked-on.
The props opposite number, Will Collier, gathered the ball and offloaded to Pete Browne who shipped the ball to Smith on halfway. Breaking through the line, the winger made light work of Scott Armstrong and May to score under the posts. Botica added the extras giving Quins a 3-7 lead.
Northampton were strong going forward, particularly through their centre Tom Stephenson and their forward pack had an early dominance in the scrums. Through this set piece, Lamb was able to reduce the gap to one point with his second penalty on ten minutes.
Harlequins were also dangerous with possession and they had great success attack down the left wing through Smith and Ollie Lindsay-Hague.
When a promising grubber kick from Matt Hopper went to touch inside the Saints 22, the home side's mistake in the lineout cost them dearly.
The lineout appeared rushed and Mike Haywood's throw went long. This allowed Dave Ward to gather possession from the back of the lineout and he passed to Botica. The fly-half drew one defender in before offloading to debutante Sloan. The centre wrestled passed two defenders and scored. Botica extended the lead with the conversion.
The Londoners continued with their expansive and unpredictable play and they again capitalised from a Lamb mistake.
From a lineout on half way the ball found the fly-half who's delayed pass allowed Smith to rush the line and grab the ball. With no one acting as the last line of defence the winger scored his second break away try in as many games.
Before the half ended, Lamb added a further three points reducing the deficit to 9-21.
Harlequins raced into the second half in search of the bonus point score and were unlucky on two occasions. Initially Matt Hopper made a break but running away from support the centre was forced to hold on and concede a penalty.
Moments later, Tom Guest missed a chance to score a second interception as he knocked on in the process of gathering possession.
Following this, the momentum changed and the Saints began a wealth of dominance. Lamb added another penalty and seconds later was converting Burrell's score.
From the restart Armstrong broke the line and raced down field, drawing the defence in, he popped the ball inside to Burrell who, despite being tackled metres before the line, slid in to score.
Botica added a penalty, but this was soon canceled out with another Saints try. The forwards continued to dominate and following a strong rolling maul, scrum-half Martin Roberts broke into the 22. Attacking into the right hand corner, when the ball was quickly recycled this left a gap on the left wing for May to cross over in. Lamb's conversion drew the scores level at 24-24.
Lamb then continued to pressurise Quins by regularly kicking deep into their half, Harlequins were under intense pressure and although they made errors which gifted Saints possession, they did well to shut the hosts out. Saints' only scores came from another Lamb penalty and a drop goal, which looked to have won the game.
Such is the Quins style and belief that they played from deep in their own half beyond the 80 minute mark and they worked right up to the line. When Waller was sin binned, Karl Dickson took a quick tap penalty. After one phase of play the ball found Botica five metres short and he bundled over. Adding the extras it gave Harlequins a 30-31 victory.
|Northampton Saints Score Card|
|Harlequins Score Card|