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Aviva Premiership: Northampton beat Harlequins 13-6 at rain-drenched Twickenham Stoop
- Friday Premiership Preview
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Northampton inflicted a first Aviva Premiership defeat of the season on Harlequins as they ground out an ugly 13-6 triumph at a rain-drenched Twickenham Stoop.
A match that should have provided the stage for England captaincy hopefuls Chris Robshaw and Tom Wood to demonstrate to head coach Stuart Lancaster who deserves to be at the helm this autumn instead deteriorated into a war of attrition at the Twickenham Stoop.
In the end the contest was settled by a solitary second-half try from James Wilson which Saints' marquee summer signing George North helped to create with some typically powerful running.
Stephen Myler converted and kicked two penalties, but it was a harrowing night for his opposite number Nick Evans, the former New Zealand fly-half who landed only two of six penalty attempts.
Northampton threatened early on but were held up over the goal-line after driving from a line-out, and when Joe Marler was penalised at the ensuing scrum, Myler kicked Saints ahead.
Two missed penalties from Evans hampered Quins, but full-back Mike Brown almost broke through the visiting defence.
Marler, England's third choice loosehead, was in a combative mood, tussling first with Calum Clark and then opposite number Tom Mercey to earn a warning from referee Andrew Small.
Robshaw, who was rested for the summer tour to Argentina enabling Wood to take a post he filled with distinction against the Pumas, then dug Harlequins out of a hole by tidying up at the back of a line-out.
Shortly afterwards it was Brown's turn to pin Northampton back after breaking free down the left wing, evading England rival Ben Foden in the process and Evans would restore parity as he did find the target with a penalty on the half hour.
Saints scrum-half Kahn Fotuali'i, making his full debut, defied the dreadful conditions by switching on the afterburners to create space, only to run into touch.
Evans and Myler missed further penalties and then the second half opened with Evans missing a third, before he finally nudged Quins ahead six minutes after the interval.
Worryingly for Saints and England Courtney Lawes was forced from the pitch early in the second half - and would later appear in the stands with strapping around his left thigh and knee - before Myler drew Northampton level.
With Evans missing once again, substitute Ben Botica was brought on - only to blunder with a chance of his own from in front of the posts.
Water was spraying from the players' boots as North began the move which would ultimately be finished by Wilson, the Welshman riding two tackles on a powerful surge to set a platform for the visitors.
A set-piece later Luther Burrell spun the ball wide to Jamie Elliot who combined with Wilson to send the Kiwi outside centre storming over for the decisive try in the 63rd minute.
Quins suffered further when number eight Nick Easter was sin-binned for a professional foul, but moments later Myler followed the Quins back-rower into the bin for a deliberate knock on, but Saints had already done enough to clinch victory.
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|Saturday 20th September|
|15:00||Harlequins vs Wasps|
|15:00||London Irish vs Saracens|
|15:15||Bath vs Leicester|
|Sunday 21st September|
|14:00||Newcastle vs Northampton|
|Friday 26th September|
|19:45||London Welsh vs Gloucester|
|Saturday 27th September|
|15:00||Leicester vs London Irish|
|15:00||Saracens vs Sale|
|15:15||Northampton vs Bath|
|Sunday 28th September|
|14:00||Wasps vs Newcastle|
|14:00||Exeter vs Harlequins|
|Friday 3rd October|
|19:45||Bath vs Saracens|
|Saturday 4th October|
|15:00||Harlequins vs London Welsh|
|15:00||London Irish vs Northampton|
|15:15||Gloucester vs Leicester|
|Sunday 5th October|
|14:00||Sale vs Wasps|
|15:00||Newcastle vs Exeter|
|Friday 10th October|
|19:45||Leicester vs Harlequins|
|Saturday 11th October|
|14:30||London Welsh vs Newcastle|
|15:00||Saracens vs Gloucester|
|15:00||Exeter vs London Irish|
|15:15||Northampton vs Sale|
|Sunday 12th October|
|14:00||Wasps vs Bath|
|Saturday 15th November|
|14:00||Sale vs London Irish|
|15:00||Gloucester vs Harlequins|
|15:00||Bath vs Newcastle|
|Saturday 20th September|
|Sale 46 - 8 London Welsh|
|Friday 19th September|
|Gloucester 22 - 25 Exeter|
|Sunday 14th September|
|Newcastle 18 - 20 London Irish|
|Wasps 20 - 16 Northampton|
|Saturday 13th September|
|Exeter 20 - 24 Leicester|
|Gloucester 34 - 27 Sale Sharks|
|Bath 53 - 26 London Welsh|
|Friday 12th September|
|Harlequins 0 - 39 Saracens|
|Sunday 7th September|
|London Welsh 0 - 52 Exeter|
|Saturday 6th September|
|London Irish 15 - 20 Harlequins|
|Leicester 36 - 17 Newcastle|
|Sale Sharks 20 - 29 Bath|
|Saracens 34 - 28 Wasps|
|Friday 5th September|
|Northampton 53 - 6 Gloucester|
Read the thoughts and opinions of Phil Edwards with skysports.com