Sunday, 7th March 2021 @ 18:00
Harlequins claimed a thrilling 37-19 bonus-point win over Northampton Saints at The Stoop to retain third place in the Gallagher Premiership.
In an afternoon full of drama, tries and cards saw Harlequins claim the bonus-point win with reserve fly-half Brett Herron scoring an 80th minute runaway try to hand his side a full five points.
Harlequins were the side to strike first on a brisk yet sunny South West London afternoon with fly-half and eventual Man of the Match Marcus Smith slotting a fourth-minute penalty to take an early 3-0 lead.
Saints were fast to react with wing Tom Collins picking up the first try of the afternoon just two minutes later. Collins was the benefactor of a smart inside running line from Saints’ outside centre Fraser Dingwall, who pierced the Quins defensive line with a smart in-to-out line whilst stationed inside the home side’s 22, with fellow centre Rory Hutchinson adding the conversion.
Another two minutes later and Quins struck with their own try, with a frenzied opening ten minutes seeing South African wing Tyrone Green benefit from a Danny Care grubber in behind the Saints defence.
Three minutes later and it was another Quins score, with Club Captain Stephan Lewies muscling his way through two Saints defenders to reach for the try line. A high price to pay for Saints, who had handed Quins possession through a loose pass around the halfway mark that was pounced upon by Harlequins’ outside centre Joe Marchant.
Marchant’s opposite number Dingwall was not to be outdone, however, with the former England U20 captain running another clever line to cut through the Harlequins’ defence, feeding to scrum-half Tom James this time, who dotted down for Saints’ second in the fourteenth minute.
Despite pressure coming from Saints, Quins’ scrum was in fine form once again, forcing the visitors off two of their set-pieces to hand Harlequins penalties at critical times in the game. Eight minutes from the break, and Quins’ efforts were repaid with a Mike Brown try from short range, with the fullback running a short inside line to score after a sustained period of short-range efforts from the forwards.
Smith converted Brown’s try before kicking a second penalty for the day shortly before referee Luke Pearce’s half-time whistle, seeing the home side head into the break with a 15-point lead, 27-12 up.
Harlequins faced early pressure in the second half, with Northampton claiming their third try just four minutes in, as Saints wing Ollie Sleightholme chased down his own kick through to dot down as Saints replicated the Harlequin formula, turning defence into attack, with wing Tyrone Green racing through the Saints half before a loose offload handed possession back to the visitors in the lead up to the score.
Saints’ tails were up, and with giant Australian wing Taqele Naiyaravoro entering the fray from the bench, Chris Boyd’s side began a succession of piercing attacking moves to test Harlequins’ mettle. The Jerry Flannery-led defence would hold strong, with Smith going as far as extending Quins’ lead to 11 points with a third penalty in the 53rd minute.
Undeterred, Saints continued to apply pressure and force Harlequins to concede 12 second-half penalties, with back rowers Jack Kenningham and Alex Dombrandt earning yellow cards as Harlequins went down to thirteen men.
Despite the regular shrill of Pearce’s whistle and the two-man advantage, Harlequins would hold out with a series of furious defensive efforts, preventing Northampton from claiming any further points despite their advantage. One effort would see Harlequins wing Aaron Morris knocked out cold after colliding with the knees of Saints’ Hutchinson.
A break in play that saw Morris stretchered off saw Green return to the field of play, having been substituted earlier, as Quins held strong to deny Northampton any further points.
A dramatic finish would see Harlequins do what they do best, with Herron’s 80th minute try securing the bonus point as the men in the Quarters turned pressure deep within their own half into a length of the field score, finishing the afternoon with a flourish.
Harlequins - 37
Tries: Green 7, Lewies 10, Brown 32, Herron 80
Conversion: Smith 7, 10, 32, Herron 80
Penalties: Smith 4, 37, 53
Northampton Saints - 19
Tries: Collins 6, James 14, Sleightholme 44
Conversion: Hutchinson 14, 44
Brown, Morris, Marchant, Esterhuizen, Green, Smith, Care, Dombrandt, White, Chisholm, Lewies, Lamb, Louw, Baldwin, Marler
Gray, Els, Kerrod, Young, Kenningham, Landajo, Herron, Northmore
Freeman, Collins, Dingwall, Hutchinson, Sleightholme, Furbank, James, Wood, Ludlam, Isiekwe, Ratuniyarawa, Coles, Hill, Matavesi, Auterac
Haywood, Waller, Painter, Moon, Tonks, Taylor, Naiyaravoro, Mallinder
Next match: Exeter Chiefs vs Harlequins. Sandy Park. Saturday, March 13. 12:30 kick-off.