Late Quins fightback not enough to upset Saints. 7thSep.2018


7th SEPTEMBER 2018

                NORTHAMPTON  SAINTS    25         HARLEQUINS   18

                   Gallagher Premiership  Friday  7th September 2018

                          Peter Moore at Franklin Gardens

Harlequins pushed Northampton Saints all the way, but could only come away with a losing bonus point after suffering a 25-18 loss.

Tries from Danny Care and James Lang gave the visitors hope, but the hosts hung on for the win.

Quins travelled to the East Midlands on the back of an opening day victory against Sale Sharks 51-23. Meanwhile, the hosts were looking to break their duck in the Premiership, after suffering a 27-16 loss against Gloucester.

Harlequins made four changes to the side that beat Sale, with Ben Glynn, Archie White and James Chisholm starting in the scrum with Charlie Walker back on the wing. For Saints ,new Director of Rugby Chris Boyd made two changes to his starting XV with Ken Pisi and flanker James Haskell returning back from injury.

Saints had the first chance to put some points on the board as early as the second minute when a Danny Care box kick was gobbled up by Tom Collins. The winger, with a frantic burst of pace down the left byline looked to be going over in the corner, before a fine late tackle from Marcus Smith ushered him in to touch. Despite Saints dominating the early exchanges, It was the visitors who registered the opening points of the contest when Northampton were penalised. Smith- who scored 26 points last week against Sharks- made no mistake from the tee to open his account for the night. The hosts drew level from the boot of new signing Dan Biggar after Quins strayed offside. Biggar had a chance to put Saints in the lead with a penalty kick from 40 yards out, but his effort came of the post. Biggar made no mistake second time around as he nudged Saints into the lead with a penalty kick from the same distance after Quins were penalised for a high tackle on Piers Francis. With the last kick of the half, Quins were penalised once again at the scrum with Biggar stepping up to send another penalty over the posts as the hosts went into the break leading 9-3.

Saints looked to have scored the opening try of the match within four minutes of the restart when Cobus Reinach looked to have slid over the line, however Elia Elia held it up. Biggar then extended the gap to six points after making it four from four from the tee. Quins got themselves back into the contest when Danny Care spun around and touched down in the 54th minute. With Smith adding the extras the deficit was reduced to two points, only for Saints to add to their score with a huge driving maul that saw Replacement Dylan Hartley crash over. Biggar converted successfully as Saints extended the gap to seven points. With Quins penalised for offside, Biggar added another three points to stretch Saints advantage to ten points with 15 minutes to go. Quins then staged a late fightback with a Smith penalty, followed by a James Lang try, spotting a gap and bursting through to touch down for his first Premiership try, seconds after coming on. The young fly half missed his conversion, but the gap had been reduced to just four points with eight minutes to play.

With three minutes remaining Replacement Harry Mallinder’s penalty kick looked like winning the game for Saints. With time running out Quins threw everything at Saints defence, earning a penalty advantage with seconds remaining Quins elected to go for the scrum getting to within meters of the line, but the home side managed to turn the ball over from the resulting ruck to end Quins fightback, and record their first win of the new Premiership season.



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