Northampton top Premiership with Harlequins win

Northampton Saints moved to the top of the Aviva Premiership table by beating former champions Harlequins 23-9 at Franklins Gardens on Friday evening. 

Second-half tries from George North and Dylan Hartley lit up a game which was
dominated by the packs, as the Saints picked up a vital win.

Northampton are top, for a day at least, and will take confidence from the
fact that they have now beaten the other three teams in the play-offs so far
this season.

Quins could drop out of the top four if Leicester pick up a win on Saturday
afternoon, as they left Franklin’s Gardens without a losing bonus-point.

The Saints looked to dominate the early proceedings, building up 12 phases
in the Harlequins 22 before winning a penalty which Stephen Myler slotted from
in front of the posts.

Nick Evans was on hand to cancel out the hosts’ lead, with three points taken
from Quins’ first foray into the opposition half.

After the early points, chances were at a premium for both sides until midway
through the half.

Harlequins were inches away from scoring the first try of the night, camping
on the Saints line for a sustained period, with Chris Robshaw going close before
they eventually settled for three points.

Myler’s leveller on the stroke of half time kept the game tightly balanced
with a 6-6 half time score.

The game needed North’s try to create the first major cheer of the night. After
bouncing off Charlie Walker, The Welsh international was given a free run to
the corner which he gleefully took to dive over. Myler’s super conversion added
the icing to the cake.

Myler appeared to be struggling with an injured foot though, and showed signs
of struggling when he missed one of the easier kicks he will ever be given,
skewing wide from close range.

Ben Botica’s three pointer had the game on a knife edge with just four points
separating the two teams going into the last 15 minutes.

Former league man Myler bounced back from his earlier miss soon after as Northampton
edged closer to victory.

Hartley’s try with ten minutes left put some gloss on the scoreline, and starved
Harlequins of a bonus point. The England man was in the right place in the right
time when Quins failed to retain possession despite looking to have stolen a
lineout.

Final Score Northampton (6) 23 Harlequins (6) 9

Scorers 

Northampton 

Tries: North, Hartley
Cons: Myler 2
Pens: Myler 3

Harlequins 
Pens: Evans 2, Botica

Match Officials
Referee: Greg Garner (58th Premiership
game).
Assistant Referees: Paul Dix and Paul
Burton
TMO: David Grashoff. 

Teams 

Northampton: 15 Tom Collins, 14 Jamie
Elliott, 13 George Pisi, 12 Luther Burrell, 11 George North, 10 Stephen Myler,
9 Lee Dickson, 8 Samu Manoa, 7 Phil Dowson, 6 Calum Clark, 5 Christian Day 4
Courtney Lawes, 3 Salesi Ma’afu, 2 Dylan Hartley (c), 1 Alex Wakker.

Replacements: 16 Mike Haywood, 17 Ethan Waller, 18 Tom Mercey, 19 Sam Dickinson, 20 Tom Wood, 21 Kahn Fotuali’i, 22 Glenn Dickson, 23 Fa’atoina Autagavaia.

Harlequins

15. Mike Brown , 14. Charlie Walker , 13. Matt Hopper , 12. Tim Molenaar , 11. Sam Smith , 10. Nick Evans , 9. Karl Dickson , 8. Nick Easter, 7. Chris Robshaw (C) , 6. Tom Guest , 5. George Robson , 4. Charlie Matthews , 3. Will

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