Northampton see off Harlequins to move up to fourth in Aviva Premiership

Northampton see off Harlequins to move up to fourth in Aviva Premiership
By PA Sport Report

27/03/2016 at 17:31

Northampton got themselves back in contention for the play-offs with a 29-23 win over Harlequins at Franklin's Gardens.

Two tries in each half for Saints were enough to secure all five points and leapfrog Leicester into fourth place in the Aviva Premiership table.

An early Ben Botica penalty had Harlequins in front but Northampton responded with tries from Alex Waller and Courtney Lawes.

Tim Visser's excellent solo score gave the visitors a 13-12 half-time lead, before Jack Clifford raced away for a try straight after the break.

Saints kept battling though and Ben Foden's try put them ahead going into the final 10 minutes before Harry Mallinder went over late on to secure the fourth try and wrap up all five points, although Botica secured a losing bonus point at the death.

Harlequins took the lead through Botica but it was the home side who grabbed the first try of the game.

After Botica had failed to find touch from a clearing kick, Ken Pisi roared back into the heart of the visitors' defence.

Saints went left where George Pisi and George North combined, and having sucked in the defence they went back right where eventually Waller was on hand to collect the ball from Lawes and crash over. Stephen Myler, who had already missed one penalty attempt, dragged his conversion wide, but Northampton led 5-3.

Myler was struggling with his kicking, but the same could not be said of Botica, who knocked over another penalty to put the visitors back in front.

Northampton hit back and after a lineout, Teimana Harrison carried the ball with purpose. Saints went through the phases and eventually Lawes went over unchallenged. Myler converted to make it 12-6.

Harlequins needed something and they got the magic required from flying Dutch-born Scotland international Visser just after the half-hour.

Collecting the ball with seemingly little danger, he produced a series of stunning sidesteps to make the initial break before leaving Foden for dead and racing over. Botica's conversion put the visitors back in front once more.

They went into the break leading 13-12, and extended that lead right at the start of the second half. Clifford spotted a mismatch in midfield and went straight past Kieran Brookes before showing his pace to sprint over from halfway despite Foden's best efforts. Botica converted.

Northampton responded quickly with three points from Myler before Foden gave them the lead on the hour.

It was made by a delightful offload from Mike Haywood, and Foden was able to burrow his way over in the corner. Myler's conversion made it 22-20 to the home side.

Botica had been enjoying a fine day with the boot but then missed two penalties in quick succession, the first coming back off the post as he failed to punish Northampton's indiscipline.

And Northampton secured all five points with six minutes to go when George Pisi's excellent break set up a try for replacement Mallinder, converted by Myler.

Botica had time to secure a losing bonus point but Harlequins could not launch a comeback.

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