Harlequins 22 Northampton Saints 19 match report: Luke Wallace handiwork too slick for Saints
Sunday 05 May 2013
April was a wicked month for Harlequins – dismissal from Europe and not a Lion in sight – but the Aviva Premiership champions are where they want to be. Well, not precisely where they want to be: they are in the play-offs and able to defend their title, but they must start to do so away to Leicester at Welford Road next Saturday.
"This team will be ready and will give it an absolute crack," Conor O'Shea, the Harlequins director of rugby, said, though he will not know until tomorrow or Tuesday whether Chris Robshaw will be available. Robshaw, captain of club and country, aims to start running tomorrow after ankle damage sustained against Worcester.
"He's desperate to play, to get out and do what he does best after the disappointment [non-selection for the Lions tour to Australia] of last Tuesday," O'Shea said. "But if he doesn't make it, Luke Wallace had a magnificent game against Northampton and it's nice to have three wins in a row to eke our way back to form."
Wallace was central to the revival of Harlequins' passing game, and to the difficulties Saints found at the breakdown. They might have known it would not be their day when Stephen Myler put the kick-off straight into touch, and they were twice turned over in the opening minutes. But, just when the game looked to be going away from them, Northampton bounced back with two tries in six minutes to shake Harlequins.
After the opening penalty salvo from Nick Evans, the bounce of a grub-kick by Danny Care comprehensively beat Ben Foden, giving Tom Williams the first try. Though Foden got his own back when his kick laid on a score for Jamie Elliott, Quins rolled into a 17-point lead early in the second half with tries by Rob Buchanan (which owed much to the work of George Robson and Wallace) and Tom Casson, which stemmed from Care's tapped penalty and dart deep into the Northampton 22.
But Northampton, who had a first-half try by Ken Pisi disallowed for obstruction, showed they will not be easy-beats on their first visit to Allianz Park to play Saracens in next Sunday's semi-final.
They created tries for Dylan Hartley and Christian Day, the second after they finally discovered some continuity: "We have been away to various sides as underdogs this season, notably Ulster, and turned them over," Jim Mallinder, the head coach, said ominously.
Harlequins M Brown; T Williams (R Chisholm, 65), G Lowe, T Casson, U Monye; N Evans ( Botica, 63), D Care (K Dickson, 63); J Marler (M Lambert, 57), R Buchanan (J Gray, 52), J Johnston (W Collier, 69), O Kohn (C Matthews, 64), G Robson, T Guest (M Fa'asavalu, 52), N Easter (capt), L Wallace.
Northampton B Foden; K Pisi, G Pisi (J Wilson, 29), L Burrell, J Elliott (R Lamb, 72); S Myler, L Dickson (M Roberts, 65); S Tonga'uiha (A Waller, 63), D Hartley (capt; M Haywood, 72), B Mujati (T Mercey, 63), C Lawes, C Day, C Clark (P Dowson, 63), S Manoa (G J van Velze, 63), T Wood.
Referee T Wigglesworth (Yorkshire).
Tries: Williams, Buchanan, Casson
Cons: Evans 2
Tries: Elliott, Hartley, Day
Cons: Myler 2
Lionel Messi dumps Jerome Boateng: The moment two-goal hero made Bayern Munich defender look like a 'baby in a playpen'
Barcelona vs Bayern Munich match report: Lionel Messi double and Neymar strike put Barca on course for Champions League final
Floyd Mayweather mocks Manny Pacquiao: 'Winners win and losers have excuses'
Barcelona 3 Bayern Munich 0 player ratings
Manchester United, Arsenal, Liverpool, Chelsea and Manchester City in top eight of Forbes Rich List
- 1 Qataris pledge to expand Canary Wharf
- 2 #JeSuisEd: People share photos of themselves eating awkwardly in solidarity with Labour leader
- 3 Women think Irish men are the sexiest, survey finds
- 4 Florida couple forced to register as sex offenders for having sex on public beach
- 5 Watch eerie drone footage of destroyed building in Stalingrad
In defence of liberal democracy
General Election 2015: Post-election 'shambles' looms as 70 per cent of voters say SNP 'should not be able to veto UK government policies'
The Rothschild Libel: Why has it taken 200 years for an anti-Semitic slur that emerged from the Battle of Waterloo to be dismissed?
General Election 2015: UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power, Labour warns
General election live: SNP suspends two members for disrupting Labour rally
General Election 2015: Sturgeon claims Scots 'appalled' by Ed Miliband's refusal to work with SNP