Late Grayson penalty helps Saints boosts hopes of a top four finish


James Grayson’s late penalty was enough to help Northampton beat Harlequins by the narrowest of margins and put Saints in with a good chance of making the play-offs.

Quins trailed 26-17 at the interval but hit back in the second half with two tries in five minutes to put their noses in front for the first time in the match, only for Saints to snatch victory at the death.

Northampton got the first points on the board when Tommy Freeman went over. Two minutes later Quins hit back when the excellent Huw Jones put Andre Esterhuizen through after the centre spotted a big gap in the Saints defence.

The hosts responded quickly when Lewis Ludlum went over in the corner. Smith cut the game with a penalty kick before Matt Cook spurned a wonderful chance for Northampton, slipping at the vital moment.

However, it wasn’t long before Northampton increased their advantage when Furbank stretched over to give the home side a nine point lead.

Harlequins hit back with a wonderful try made by Joe Marchant’s skills. The centre chipped ahead, with the ball looking to go into touch, somehow he managed to jump up and slap the ball back to Jones to run in and score. Smith added the extras to reduce the deficit to two points.

With half time approaching, Alex Waller went in under the posts for Saints try bonus point and to give them a lead at the interval 26-17.

Harlequins responded in the way champions do by hitting back with a brace of tries inside five minutes. Birthday boy Alex Dombrandt crashed over after a rolling maul before a fine Esterhuizen carry saw Cadan Murley cross for Quins try bonus point.

There was still time for more drama at the end of the game when a key turnover from Courtney Lawes and a crucial breakdown allowed Saints a chance to win the game with a long range penalty from 50 meters out.

Up stepped Grayson with his effort bang on target to give Saints a massive victory and the possibility of playing in the play-offs a strong possibility.

For Harlequins, the two points they picked up from the game keeps them on the cusp of the play-offs.

Northampton Saints 32  Harlequins 31

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