Rugby Union: Bray's boot secures the booty

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The Independent Online
Harlequins. . . .15

Northampton. . . .7

NORTHAMPTON were left kicking themselves at The Stoop yesterday while Kent Bray kicked everything on offer in the second half to turn this Courage Clubs' First Division match around in the most extraordinary fashion and give Harlequins their third league win of the season. Quins could hardly believe their good fortune.

As it was, they dominated the line-out in the continuing absence of the towering Saint, Martin Bayfield. But for all that, they still had some ground to make up before Northampton decided to gift-wrap the points for Bray, the Australian-born Oxford Blue.

Northampton had to make the most of what they got and that was not a lot in the line-out. But they made their tackles count, with Tim Rodber again superb in this area, and Matt Dawson and Ian Hunter lifted the side with some attacking thrusts whenever they had possession.

Quins, though, should have been off and running through the soaring efforts of Alex Snow. Chris Sheasby also figured prominently.

Bray and Paul Challinor had both missed penalty attempts when Hunter first showed his paces after being put in the clear by Rodber and it took the combined efforts of two Quins defenders to keep the full-back out. But Hunter had shown Northampton what they could achieve with determination and once Paul Grayson had missed a penalty they forged in front.

Dawson had found a superb touch on the right just short of the Quins line. Two five-metre scrums followed and from the second Rodber picked up, fed Peter Walton and Dawson nipped away for a try that Grayson converted.

Things appeared to be going Northampton's way, but they inexplicably tossed away the script during the half-time interval and started to hand the match to Quins.

This was down to indiscipline and Bray cashed in with one kick after another. Northampton, mind, made the task considerably easier by committing their sins directly in front of the posts and never further away than about 35 yards out.

Harlequins: K Bray; D O'Leary, W Carling, G Thompson, J Alexander; P Challinor, R Glenister; J Leonard, B Moore, A Mullins (capt), A Snow, D Dix, M Pepper, C Sheasby, J Cassell (P Thresher, 38 min).

Northampton: I Hunter; H Thorneycroft, M Fielden, R MacNaughton, N Beal; P Grayson, M Dawson; G Baldwin, J Olver (capt), G Pearce, G Webster, J Phillips, P Walton, T Rodber, C Millhouse.

Referee: D McHugh (Irish RU).

Scores: Dawson/Grayson (try/con, 34 min, 0-7); Bray (pen, 44 min, 3-7); Bray (pen, 46 min, 6-7); Bray (pen, 53 min, 9- 7); Bray (pen, 58 min, 12-7); Bray (pen, 67 min, 15-7).