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Aviva Premiership: Northampton beat Harlequins 13-6 at rain-drenched Twickenham Stoop
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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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|Friday 14th November|
|19:45||Gloucester vs Harlequins|
|19:45||Northampton vs Exeter|
|Saturday 15th November|
|14:00||Sale vs London Irish|
|17:00||Bath vs Newcastle|
|Sunday 16th November|
|13:00||Leicester vs Saracens|
|15:15||Wasps vs London Welsh|
|Friday 21st November|
|19:45||Harlequins vs Sale|
|20:00||Newcastle vs Gloucester|
|Saturday 22nd November|
|15:00||London Irish vs Bath|
|15:00||Exeter vs Wasps|
|Sunday 23rd November|
|13:00||Saracens vs Northampton|
|15:15||London Welsh vs Leicester|
|Friday 28th November|
|19:45||Bath vs Harlequins|
|Saturday 29th November|
|15:00||Leicester vs Wasps|
|16:30||Exeter vs Saracens|
|Sunday 30th November|
|13:00||London Irish vs Gloucester|
|14:30||London Welsh vs Northampton|
|15:15||Newcastle vs Sale|
|Saturday 20th December|
|14:00||Sale vs Exeter|
|15:00||Gloucester vs Bath|
|15:00||Northampton vs Leicester|
|15:00||Saracens vs London Welsh|
|15:00||Harlequins vs Newcastle|
|Sunday 21st December|
|14:00||Wasps vs London Irish|
|Friday 26th December|
|15:00||London Irish vs London Welsh|
|Sunday 12th October|
|Wasps 29 - 22 Bath|
|Saturday 11th October|
|Northampton 43 - 10 Sale Sharks|
|Saracens 28 - 21 Gloucester|
|Exeter 44 - 24 London Irish|
|London Welsh 3 - 23 Newcastle|
|Friday 10th October|
|Leicester 22 - 16 Harlequins|
|Sunday 5th October|
|Newcastle 29 - 24 Exeter|
|Sale 25 - 14 Wasps|
|Saturday 4th October|
|Gloucester 33 - 16 Leicester|
|Harlequins 52 - 0 London Welsh|
|London Irish 12 - 19 Northampton|
|Friday 3rd October|
|Bath 21 - 11 Saracens|
|Sunday 28th September|
|Wasps 35 - 18 Newcastle|
|Exeter 36 - 13 Harlequins|
|Saturday 27th September|
|Northampton 31 - 24 Bath|
|Leicester 19 - 22 London Irish|
|Saracens 40 - 19 Sale Sharks|
|Friday 26th September|
|London Welsh 10 - 46 Gloucester|
|Sunday 21st September|
|Newcastle 10 - 35 Northampton|
|Saturday 20th September|
|Bath 45 - 0 Leicester|
|Harlequins 26 - 23 Wasps|
|London Irish 32 - 36 Saracens|
|Sale 46 - 8 London Welsh|
|Friday 19th September|
|Gloucester 22 - 25 Exeter|
|Sunday 14th September|
|Newcastle 18 - 20 London Irish|
Read the thoughts and opinions of Phil Edwards with skysports.com