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
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

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

Career Services

Day In a Page

Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

Britain's 24-hour culture

With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

The addictive nature of Diplomacy

Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
Lady Chatterley's Lover: Racy underwear for fans of DH Lawrence's equally racy tome

Fashion: Ooh, Lady Chatterley!

Take inspiration from DH Lawrence's racy tome with equally racy underwear
8 best children's clocks

Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
Charlie Austin: Queens Park Rangers striker says ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

Charlie Austin: ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

After hitting 18 goals in the Premier League last season, the QPR striker was the great non-deal of transfer deadline day. But he says he'd preferred another shot at promotion
Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones