Mallinder fancies his chances of taking on Quins one final time

 

Jim Mallinder reflected for a moment on the possibility of meeting Harlequins one more time this season, in the Aviva Premiership final at Twickenham on May 25. For that to happen, both the away teams in next weekend's play-offs have to win but Mallinder, Northampton's director of rugby, quite likes the notion.

"We can go and spoil people's unbeaten home records," he said, referring to next Sunday's opponents, Saracens. Likewise Harlequins can review their recent record at Welford Road, where they will play Leicester on Saturday, and like what they see: league wins there in 2011 and 2012 suggest that, if they are on form, they have nothing to fear.

There is a little iron, too, in the soul of Harlequins. They have been hurt that not one of their candidates for the Lions tour to Australia – Chris Robshaw, Danny Care and, at a push, Nick Easter – has been chosen and they seek, in what remains of the domestic season, to make a point.

Against Leicester, for example, Care will be matched against Ben Youngs, who has superseded him for England and the Lions. "Youngs is a quality player but it's all about the team," said Care, not trying to mask his disappointment. "We will back ourselves against anyone on our day." In creating two of his side's three tries, the scrum-half has already showed the best possible response.

Robshaw, if he has recovered from a twisted ankle, could run out against Tom Croft, another Lion. Harlequins will know, probably tomorrow, whether their indefatigable England captain will be fit. The club, however, will be sustained by the form showed against Northampton by Luke Wallace in a game where success at the breakdown made all the difference in Quins' 22-19 win.

Harlequins have not been so sound in defence as they were in 2011-12 and Northampton exposed them with two tries in six minutes midway through the second half.

"We switched off for 10 minutes and that won't be good enough next week," Conor O'Shea, their director of rugby, said. "We have to turn up with the mindset we had today but we have to do it for 80 minutes."

Northampton, who started this season like a train, have ended with the same number of points (65) which they garnered a year ago and occupy the same fourth place in the table. But they have scored fewer points overall and, like Harlequins, have been more fallible in defence: last year, you suspect, Ben Foden would have denied Tom Williams the opening try but here he misjudged a bouncing ball completely.

The bounce will be more true on the artificial surface at Allianz Park, the home of Saracens where Northampton have never played. "That's an unknown for us but we won't go there worried about it," Mallinder said. Their away record this season includes victories at all three West Country clubs, Gloucester, Exeter Chiefs and Bath, and famously at Ulster in the Heineken Cup. Surely Allianz Park in Barnet will not be more hostile than Ravenhill.

Scorers: Harlequins: Tries Williams, Buchanan, Casson. Conversions Evans 2. Penalty Evans. Northampton: Tries Elliott, Hartley, Day. Conversions Myler 2.

Harlequins: M Brown; T Williams (R Chisholm, 65), G Lowe, T Casson, U Monye; N Evans (B 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), L Wallace, N Easter (captain).

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 (T Mercey, 63), D Hartley (M Haywood, 72), B Mujati (A Waller, 63), C Lawes, C Day, C Clark (P Dowson, 63), T Wood, S Manoa (G-J van Velze, 63).

Referee: T Wigglesworth (Yorkshire).

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

How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth: Would people co-operate to face down a global peril?

How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth

Would people cooperate to face a global peril?
Just one day to find €1.6bn: Greece edges nearer euro exit

One day to find €1.6bn

Greece is edging inexorably towards an exit from the euro
New 'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could help surgeons and firefighters, say scientists

'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could become reality

Holographic projections would provide extra information on objects in a person's visual field in real time
Sugary drinks 'are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year'

Sugary drinks are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year

The drinks that should be eliminated from people's diets
Pride of Place: Historians map out untold LGBT histories of locations throughout UK

Historians map out untold LGBT histories

Public are being asked to help improve the map
Lionel, Patti, Burt and The Who rock Glasto

Lionel, Patti, Burt and The Who rock Glasto

This was the year of 24-carat Golden Oldies
Paris Fashion Week

Paris Fashion Week

Thom Browne's scarecrows offer a rare beacon in commercial offerings
A year of the caliphate:

Isis, a year of the caliphate

Who can defeat the so-called 'Islamic State' – and how?
Marks and Spencer: Can a new team of designers put the spark back into the high-street brand?

Marks and Spencer

Can a new team of designers put the spark back into the high-street brand?
'We haven't invaded France': Italy's Prime Minister 'reclaims' Europe's highest peak

'We haven't invaded France'

Italy's Prime Minister 'reclaims' Europe's highest peak
Isis in Kobani: Why we ignore the worst of the massacres

Why do we ignore the worst of the massacres?

The West’s determination not to offend its Sunni allies helps Isis and puts us all at risk, says Patrick Cockburn
7/7 bombings 10 years on: Four emergency workers who saved lives recall the shocking day that 52 people were killed

Remembering 7/7 ten years on

Four emergency workers recall their memories of that day – and reveal how it's affected them ever since
Humans: Are the scientists developing robots in danger of replicating the hit Channel 4 drama?

They’re here to help

We want robots to do our drudge work, and to look enough like us for comfort. But are the scientists developing artificial intelligence in danger of replicating the TV drama Humans?
Time to lay these myths about the Deep South to rest

Time to lay these myths about the Deep South to rest

'Heritage' is a loaded word in the Dixie, but the Charleston killings show how dangerous it is to cling to a deadly past, says Rupert Cornwell
What exactly does 'one' mean? Court of Appeal passes judgement on thorny mathematical issue

What exactly does 'one' mean?

Court of Appeal passes judgement on thorny mathematical issue