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Against Leicester, for example, Care will be matched against Ben Youngs, who has superseded him for England and the Lions.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).

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
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

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

How a costume drama became a Sunday night staple
Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers as he pushes Tories on housing

Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers

Labour leader pushes Tories on housing
Aviation history is littered with grand failures - from the the Bristol Brabazon to Concorde - but what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?

Aviation history is littered with grand failures

But what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?
Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of Soviet-style 'iron curtains' right across Europe

Fortress Europe?

Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of 'iron curtains'
Never mind what you're wearing, it's what you're reclining on

Never mind what you're wearing

It's what you're reclining on that matters
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence