Brown and Care star as Quins bounce back from Warriors defeat
Harlequins 30 Northampton Saints 17
Harlequins, inspired by Danny Care and Mike Brown, secured a 30-17 bonus-point victory at the hands of Northampton Saints at the Stoop on Sunday.
Harlequins went into the game with Paul Gustard making 13 changes from the side that suffered a heavy mid-week defeat to Worcester. Meanwhile, Northampton also made changes with Chris Boyd making 14.
Quins virtually put out a first team and Saints largely trusting a lot of their younger players, it was the hosts with the experience of Care, Chris Robshaw and Brown who dominated over the younger brigade in front of the watching Eddie Jones.
From a lineout inside five minutes the visitors where first on the board when New Zealander Matt Proctor walked through a static home defence to feed Rory Hutchinson to run in.
After Marcus Smith knocked over a penalty, the hosts opened their account in the try department when Brown took a quick tap and go and then played a one two with Alex Dombrandt who floated over a pass for Nathan Earle to score.
Northampton responded quickly when Ryan Olowofela dotted down in the corner. The conversion was successful from James Grayson as the visitors nudged ahead 14-10.
Quins to their credit hit back from a rolling maul Scott Baldwin was pushed over. Smith’s conversion came of the post but made amends on the stroke of half time to give Harlequins a 18-14 lead at the break.
Within minutes of the restart the exciting fly half was back in the action with a break which was eventually stopped on the line by Alex Mitchell. A couple of phases later Chris Ashton fizzed a pass to Robshaw who touched down in the corner.
On fifty minutes Quins had wrapped up the try bonus point, and it was Brown who was the architect of it. The full back dummied a clearance kick in his own 22, then raced through before offloading to Dombrandt who saw Ashton on his right.
The winger finished with his customary Ash Splash. With Smith kicking over the extras Quins were in a dominate position by leading 30-14.
On the hour mark Grayson kicked a penalty, but it was no consolation for the Saints who now face a difficult job to try and force themselves into the play-offs.
For Harlequins, it was a must win game and sets them up nicely for the forthcoming home match against Bath on Saturday- a pilot event that is set to welcome 3,500 fans to the stadium.
‘The spine of the team played very well,’ said Harlequins’ Paul Gustard.
‘When they play well it gives us direction in attack. Things change fast. Against Worcester we embarrassed ourselves, let the club down so today was the response we wanted.
‘This next block of three games are critical if we want to make the top four.’
‘There’s not a lot of experience in that side,’ said Saints boss Chris Boyd.
‘Top four is still alive but it’s a hell of a big mountain now. The flame hasn’t gone out but one more loss will be terminal I think.’ Saints’ youthful exuberance, and a record-breakingly porous Quins defence, contributed to the first try.”