Care delivers as Quins land shock win at shabby Saints

Northampton 13 Harlequins 16: Visitors' victory against leaders Northampton leaves them hoping a corner has been turned

It was never like this in 2010. Harlequins had gone through the old year without an away win in the league but they pitched up to the home of the leaders and turned them over with a clever mixture of cute defenceand back-row expertise. For Northampton it was more "mea culpa" than "auld lang syne".

The Saints started the second half with a position that could only have been more potent if Harlequins had boarded their bus and gone home. Northampton led 10-3 and their opponents were down to 13 men for the next nine and a half minutes. Quins' tighthead John Andress and No 8 Nick Easter had been shown yellow cards, 30 seconds apart, just before the interval, as Northampton pressure at a series of scrums earned a penalty try converted by Steve Myler.

Yet what ensued was as nightmarish as it could get for the Saints, who had won all eight matches at the Gardens previously this season. Depleted Quins were smart with the ball – going side-to-side from rucks marshalled by their England scrum-half, Danny Care – and emboldened by horrendous Saints lapses. Ben Foden launched Northampton with a mazy run but when at length the ball reached Courtney Lawes on the opponents' 22, the young England lock was indecisive and he missed an overlap which included Saints' serial try-scoring loosehead, Soane Tonga'uiha.

Still it appeared Saints had only to be patient to prosper. They stole a Quins line-out through Christian Day and with charges by Dylan Hartley and Lawes they won a penalty in the visitors' 22. Hartley, the captain, chose to scrummage, but shockingly, Saints let themselves be pinged by referee Dean Richards for an early engagement against a six-man Quins pack scrummaging in 3-2-1 formation.

The free-kick award was part of a third-quarter pattern of the penalty count reversing in Harlequins' favour. And not long after Andress and Easterhad rejoined the action, Northampton's embarrassment redoubled. At a scrum in their 22 on 52 minutes, Roger Wilson at No 8 and the scrum-half Lee Dickson took too long over a clearing kick and Care charged down and hacked on for a try converted by Nick Evans, who had kicked a 29th minute penalty to level the scores three minutes after Myler's opener.

Care, a Liverpool fan, appeared on Twitter yesterday morning with a heartfelt suggestion to Roy Hodgson to "get the cheque book out" and sign David Beckham. The remainder of the second half here was beyond price to Harlequins. "I couldn't be prouder of them," said Conor O'Shea, the director of rugby, after two more penalties by Evans pushed them out to 16-10 and Northampton could manage only a penalty by Shane Geraghty in reply. "That wasn't about coaching; it was about what the players meant to one another," added O'Shea. "We've been saying for a long time we're better than our results at the start of the season showed." With seven wins in nine matches, they are starting to prove it.

Northampton must quickly digest a fourth home defeat in just under four years, and recover for their trip to Leicester in the league on Saturday, then Heineken Cup matches against Edinburgh and Castres to decide their pool placing in Europe. "We talked about keeping the ball and not giving any penalties away," said Jim Mallinder, Saints' director of rugby, of the sin-bin spell. "We gave three penalties away and ran into touch twice." Damnation by faint criticism.

Saints' Tom Wood and Chris Robshaw, the Quins captain, were called up for England training during the autumn and are among the queue to replace the injured Tom Croft in the squad for the Six Nations Championship to be named on 12 January. Robshaw would get the vote if it came down to this memorable performance by him and his team.

Northampton Saints B Foden; C Ashton, J Clarke (J Ansbro, 70), J Downey, P Diggin; S Myler (S Geraghty, 70), L Dickson; S Tonga'uiha, D Hartley (capt), B Mujati, C Lawes, C Day (M Sorenson, 61), P Dowson, R Wilson, T Wood (C Clark, 61).

Harlequins M Brown; T Williams, G Lowe, J Turner-Hall, U Monye; N Evans, D Care; J Marler, M Cairns (C Brooker, 60), J Andress (M Lambert, 63), O Kohn, G Robson (T Vallejos, 51), T Guest (M Lambert, 39-49; W Skinner, 74), N Easter, C Robshaw (capt).

Referee D Richards (Berkshire).

BUY RUGBY WORLD CUP TICKETS

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine
Letterman's final Late Show: Laughter, but no tears, as David takes his bow after 33 years

Laughter, but no tears, as Letterman takes his bow after 33 years

Veteran talkshow host steps down to plaudits from four presidents
Ivor Novello Awards 2015: Hozier wins with anti-Catholic song 'Take Me To Church' as John Whittingdale leads praise for Black Sabbath

Hozier's 'blasphemous' song takes Novello award

Singer joins Ed Sheeran and Clean Bandit in celebration of the best in British and Irish music
Tequila gold rush: The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product

Join the tequila gold rush

The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product
12 best statement wallpapers

12 best statement wallpapers

Make an impact and transform a room with a conversation-starting pattern
Paul Scholes column: Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?

Paul Scholes column

Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?