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Harlequins keep play-off hopes alive with statement win over Northampton Saints

Harlequins keep their top four hopes alive with a statement 41-32 win over table-topper Northampton Saints. 

Braces from Luke Northmore and Will Porter were the pick of the bunch, but other scores from Stephan Lewies and Cadan Murley steered them to a crucial bonus-point win.

Harlequins came out the blocks flying with a try in the opening minute. Some basketball-esq offloading from Cadan Murley and Tyrone Green got the Quins through the Northampton defence. Just two phases later, a pinpoint cross-field kick from Marcus Smith fell perfectly into the path of Luke Northmore, who scampered in for the try.

Things quickly turned sour for the hosts though, as Danny Care was sent to the sin-bin for a high tackle on Courtney Lawes. The Saints piled the pressure on 14-man Quins, but they couldn’t capitalise.

With Quins back up to their full compliment, Northampton struck through Ollie Sleightholme. A clever counter-attack found the ball in Tom Litchfield’s hands out wide. The centre put in a cheeky kick, which bounced up perfectly for the on-chasing Sleightholme and he ran in for his 11th try of the season. Fin Smith added the extras. The fly-half was back just minutes later with a 45 meter penalty kick.

Their lead lasted mere minutes though, as Northmore grabbed his second try of the game from a perfectly executed lineout strike move; giving Smith an easy conversion in the process.

Things again took a turn for the worse for Quins. Louis Lynagh was sent to the sin-bin for a deliberate knock-on, giving Fin Smith an easy three pointer in the process. Despite being a man-down, Quins notched their third try of the half as Stephan Lewies powered over from close range.

Northampton looked to have scored through Sam Graham, however his effort was struck off for a knock-on in the build up, keeping Harlequins lead in tact going into the sheds.

Will Porter double cements statement win

The hosts again came out strong in the second-half, and grabbed the all-important bonus point try. A delayed pass from Marcus Smith created a gap in the Northampton line, and Murley steamed through to score.

Northampton needed a response if they wanted to get back into the game, and they got it through James Ramm. Clever work from George Furbank drew in the Quins defence, which created a space for the in-form back to slice through and score.

For the third time in the game, Quins found themselves down a man as Green was sent to the naughty step for a deliberate knock-on.

Momentum was firmly with the Saints now, and they made it count through Litchfield as he crashed over.

Now restored to the full compliment, Quins regained the lead. A lovely attacking set found the hosts just inches from the Saints line, however it took a clever offload from Lewies to send Will Porter over in the corner.

The scrum-half was back moments later as he grabbed his second try of the game. Jarrod Evans sliced through the Northampton defence, and he put it on a plate for t

Northampton wouldn’t go down without a fight though. They motored their way down the pitch, and Courtney Lawes reaped the rewards as he powered over from close range.

With the final kick of the game, Evans knocked over an easy penalty to deny Northampton a losing bonus-point.

Harlequins 41-32 Northampton Saints

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Harlequins: 41

Tries: Northmore (1, 26) Lewies (32), Murley (45), Porter (67, 73)

Conversions: Smith (4/6)

Penalties: Evans

Sin-bin: Care-High tackle, Lynagh-Deliberate knock-on, Green-Deliberate knock-on

Northampton Saints: 32

Tries: Sleightholme (19), Ramm (49), Litchfield, Lawes (76)

Conversions: Smith (3/4)

Penalties: Smith (2)