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Harlequins 13-6 Northampton

Harlequins (13) 13
Tries: Brown Cons: Evans Pens: Evans 2
Northampton Saints (0) 6
Pens: Myler 2

David Strettle
Strettle (front) is stopped in his tracks at the Stoop

A dominant first-half display saw Harlequins upset title-chasing Northampton in the Premiership.

All Black Nick Evans slotted over two early penalties as the Saints' pack were consistently bullied.

Mike Brown touched down in the 20th minute and Evans converted as Quins went in 13-0 up at the break.

Stephen Myler eventually found his range, notching two penalties to give Saints hope but Quins withstood late pressure to hang on for the win.

Quins, without rested England number eight Nick Easter, went at the fancied Saints from the off.

And the Londoners were rewarded with penalties in the third and seventh minutes, which fly-half Evans made no mistakes with.

His opposite number, Myler, however, was not so accurate - missing an early penalty after a rare Northampton foray into Quins territory.

Good defensive work by Lee Dickson saw the scrum-half get underneath a certain try by Harlequins centre George Lowe.

However, Lowe was soon wreaking havoc again when he drew the cover and released Brown before the former England full-back went over for the only try of the game.

Evans' angled conversion put Quins well in control at 13-0.

Former England back David Strettle should have extended his side's lead but he fumbled Evans' pass with the line at his mercy.

Myler fired a penalty wide just before the interval and his miserable day continued when another penalty attempt sailed off-target two minutes after the restart.

Two successful Myler penalties, though, in the 46th and 55th minutes, which narrowed the gap to seven, and a missed penalty from Evans in the 64th minute saw Quins endure a nervy finish.

Saints introduced Shane Geraghty for Myler, however, he too was wayward with his boot, fluffing a late penalty as his team's six-match winning streak in the Premiership came to an abrupt halt.

Harlequins coach John Kingston:

"The intensity of the performance by the lads was outstanding and the attitude in our camp is very, very good. I can see us going forward steadily.

"I saw the Sale v Leeds result on Friday night, but I look on that as a positive, as a result that prevents Sale from pulling away from us as we fight to climb the table.

"It is not for us to suggest who will finish bottom of the Guinness Premiership, but it won't be Quins.

"If we can carry on coping while our lads are away on international duty, I believe we will kick on during the last six or seven league games."

Northampton coach Jim Mallinder:

"We got out-muscled and simply did not deserve to win. We had penalties that could have changed the scoreline, but missed four of them. I am disappointed, we all are.

"We had a bad day at the office, but we'll go away and work hard this week to get back to doing the things we do well.

"Quins get in your face and work at stopping you playing your game. We like to get off the front foot and play our game, but we were on the back foot for almost the entire first half when our defence stood up well.

"We didn't have our England boys for our main training day, but that is no excuse for that performance."

Harlequins: Brown; Strettle, Lowe, Turner-Hall, Williams; Evans, Dickson; Jones, Cairns, Andress, Percival, Stevenson, Robshaw, Skinner (capt), Guest.
Replacements: Smith (for Williams 59), Brooker (for Cairns 74). Not used: Croall, Johnston, Vallejos, York, So'oialo, Clegg.

Northampton: Foden, Ashton, Clarke, Downey, Diggin, Myler, Dickson, Tonga'uiha, Sharman, Murray, Fernandez Lobbe, Kruger, Lawes, Best, Dowson (capt).
Replacements: Easter (for Fernandez Lobbe 55), Geraghty (for Myler 60), Mujati (for Murray 60), Long (for Sharman 63), Mayor (for Clarke 63), S. Gray (for Lawes 80), Geraghty (for Myler 60). Not used: Morris, Dickens

Att: 12,935

Ref: John Paul Doyle

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see also
Gloucester 46-6 Harlequins
13 Feb 10 |  English
Northampton 25-13 Newcastle
13 Feb 10 |  English

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