Harlequins come out second best at Franklin’s Gardens
3rd Jan 2023 | Local Sport
Harlequins travelled to Northampton Saints this weekend for a New Year's Day clash of third vs seventh, looking to reduce the seven-point gap between themselves and second-placed Sale Sharks.
However, despite looking to bounce back from defeat to Bristol Bears, Quins found themselves once again second-best as Northampton ran riot in front of a sold-out home crowd, claiming six tries to Quins' two.
The Londoners were in for a tough fight in the East Midlands, with Saints running in two unopposed tries via prop Alex Waller and wing James Ramm within the first 17 minutes for a neat 14-0 start.
While Quins' Italian fly-half Tommy Allan attempted to kickstart the scoreboard with a penalty in the 21st minute, and the score did see much-improved pressure from the Harlequin attack, the travelling Londoners failed to add to their account.
Saints claimed a score at the death of the first-half as Ramm got his second and Saints' third as a Harlequin counterattack saw a fumbled ball fall into Northampton hands. Sprinting down the left touchline this time, Ramm found himself on the end of a scrambling move to claim the try. No conversion for Smith this time, leaving Harlequins 19-3 down at half-time.
Saints piled further woe on Harlequins at the start of the second-half, with an Alex Dombrandt yellow card permeating two penalties and a George Furbank try before Quins could fire their return shot.
Once restored to the pitch, Dombrandt sparked the move that would garner Quins' first try of the day. Running a smart out to in line, Dombrandt made progress through the Northampton line before sending a deft offload out the back of his hand to the supporting Jordan Els, who was bundled over the line for his first-ever Premiership try.
The fledgling hope of a dramatic Quins comeback was dashed as the Saints ran in two further tries via Furbank and Scotland centre Rory Hutchinson for a total of 46 points for the day from the home side.
Claiming the final word of the day, broken field play allowed Quins to strike for their second try a minute from full-time. Will Edwards and Danny Care conspired in the middle of the pitch to unleash first Jack Musk and then Nick David for late points as the fullback dashed in under the rain. A nifty drop goal conversion from Edwards harked back to his days on the sevens circuit to make the final score Northampton 46, Harlequins 17.
Next up for Quins, a tussle with the physical Sale Sharks at The Twickenham Stoop next Sunday, live on BT Sport.
Harlequins Starting XV 1. Fin Baxter (63) 2. Jack Walker (69) 3. Simon Kerrod (46) 4. Dino Lamb (4) 5. George Hammond 6. Archie White 7. Tom Lawday (60) 8. Alex Dombrandt - Captain 9. Lewis Gjaltema (46) 10. Tommy Allan (59) 11. Josh Bassett 12. Andre Esterhuizen 13. Joe Marchant 14. Cadan Murley (63) 15. Nick David
Impact Players 16. Jack Musk (69), 17. Jordan Els (63), 18. Wilco Louw (46), 19. Charlie Matthews (4), 20. Luke Wallace (60), 21. Danny Care (46), 22. Will Edwards (59), 23. Oscar Beard (63) Northampton Saints team 15 George Furbank 14 Tommy Freeman 13 Matt Proctor (65) 12 Fraser Dingwall 11 James Ramm 10 Fin Smith (40) 9 Alex Mitchell (46) 1 Alex Waller (55) 2 Sam Matavesi (29) 3 Paul Hill (65) 4 David Ribbans 5 Alex Moon 6 Lukhan Salakaia-Loto 7 Angus Scott-Young 8 Lewis Ludlam (c) (54) Replacements 16 Mikey Haywood (29), 17 Emmanuel Iyogun (55), 18 Alfie Petch (65), 19 Karl Wilkins, 20 Sam Graham (54), 21 Callum Braley (46), 22 Rory Hutchinson (65), 23 Courtnall Skosan (40)