Northampton 32-31 Harlequins: James Grayson’s delayed penalty gives the Saints an exciting victory and boosts their hopes for Premiership playoffs
- Northampton scored four tries and they were leading 26-17 during the Friday night break
- Alex Dombrandt and Cadan Murley scored in the second half in an attempt to put Quins in the lead
- But the victory was ensured by James Grayson with a 48-meter throw four minutes left
This wasn’t the scenario Tabai Matson’s Harlequins were used to.
Just days after the premiere of their documentary Prep to Win following its shining red premiere in London, the defenders of the Gallagher Premiership title again looked as if they had demonstrated their box office appeal by leading Northampton two points three minutes to go.
Their final return mission was close to completion, but this time the writer had other ideas.
James Grayson’s late punishment helped Northampton beat the Harlequins on Friday night
Tries: Freeman 5, Ludlam 11, Furbank 25, Waller 36
Cons: Grayson 6, 12, 37
Pens: Grayson 59, 77
Tries: Esterhuizen 7, Jones 33, Dombrandt 45, Murley 52
Cons: Blacksmith 8, 35, 46, 54
Feather: Blacksmith 17
Northampton: Furbank (Sleightholme 59); Proctor (Furbank 70), Dingwall (Francis 53), Hutchinson, Freeman; Grayson, Mitchell (James 67); Iyogun, Haywood (Fish 75), Carey (Hill 11) (Waller 22), Coles (Moon 39), Ratuniyarawa, Lawes, Ludlam (captain), Augustus (Hinkley 6)
Harlequins: Jones; Lynagh, Marchant, Esterhuizen, Murley (David 59); Smith, Care; Kerrod (Garcia Botta 51), Walker, Louw (Collier 70), Symons, Tizard (Chisholm 53) (Musk 61-70); Lewies, Lawday (Wallace 71), Dombrandt
Unused substitutes: Gjaltema, Allan
Judge: Mateusz Carley
Star Man: Lewis Ludlam (Saints of Northampton)
Judge Matthew Carley punished Deputy Quins Luke Wallace for failing to return, and James Grayson stepped in to win him for the Saints Chris Boyd. They almost deserved it too.
Northampton scored four tries in the first half in an exciting performance, and their scoring of the bonus points at the smallest possible cemented their top four spot.
The Arlequins remain in third place with two bonus points conceded, but it was a chance for them to qualify for the play-offs.
“Sometimes we were not in the best shape, but you would hope that with a few minutes left and you are on the scoreboard, you can finish the game,” said head coach Harlequins Matson.
“It was a tough summon at the end, and then you’re desperate. Northampton is in the same position as us and they ultimately got the result because they were just a tad tougher. “
It was another Friday’s Premiership rugby feast of this fateful season. The race for the top four continues to fascinate Northampton, latecomers at an event that started in September and has yet to show signs of burnout. On the contrary, in fact.
In the first half, Northampton played captivating rugby. Now they have invaluable confidence and momentum, although they won’t be playing again until May 21 at Saracens.
Saints rugby director Boyd was thrilled with his team’s first 40th game in which they scored goals by Tommy Freeman, Lewis Ludlam, George Furbank and Alex Waller.
The fourth-placed Saints celebrate an exciting victory that moved them six points above Exeter
Andre Esterhuizen and Huw Jones responded for Quins. Pole for cat scoring brought the hungry crowd from Franklin’s Gardens to the edge of their seats.
Northampton lost four forwards – including both starting props and standby props – to an injury in the first half. For security reasons, Carley had no choice but to move on to the undisputed scrums.
“It’s nice to win and play pretty well,” said rugby director Boyd in Northampton. “We gave up but didn’t play a really good performance against a good team and Arlequins are a great team.
“For us, scoring bonus points against one of the best teams in the league means it was one of our better performances.”
Northampton had Api Ratuniyarawa, Ludlama and their entire rear division in great shape and while their first half of rugby was not perfect, it was a joy to watch.
Alex Mitchell, Freeman and Rory Hutchinson’s running lines were excellent and far from the only one.
The Harlequins ran on four tries but could not hold a victory at the Franklin Gardens
In this form, Saints can still shock one of the more respected contenders for the Premiership title.
Harlequins took the lead in the second half thanks to Alex Dombrandt and Cadan Murley and a Marcus Smith shoe before their side Santiago Garcia Botta saw yellow.
Half of England’s Smith squad fell on both flanks and number 8 in the undisputed scrums.
Botta might as well have seen red for his high shot at Furbank, but ultimately the Saints won thanks to Grayson’s shoe. Wallace may have been unlucky to be punished at a decisive point in the game.
The Harlequins scrum Polovtsy, Danny Care, received his sixth yellow card of the season after his death.
“We were lucky to hit this result at half-time,” said Matson, whose team was losing 26-17 after a crazy opening 40 minutes. – Northampton were better than us. We missed the jump and made mistakes. They punished us. In many areas, they are on the top two or three of the league’s teams.