It was billed as Saints pack versus Quins backs, but it was the Quins pack who won the day. At times it was not pretty, but it was total commitment as harlequins won this tightest of battles thanks to the power of their pack and this against one of the most vaunted packs in the Leagues.
The first half was more about territory than handling as both sides tested each other and so it was that Northampton went in at half time ahead 12-9 from the boot of Lamb, whilst Quins points had come from Evans.
The second period and the power of the Harlequins pack was becoming more obvious as Marler, who was lucky to stay on the field for the full 80 and Johnson caused problems for Tonga’uiha and Mujati.
The game looked like it would be settled by the boot as Lamb put Saints 18-15 up and then with 10 minutes to go Dickson ended a sweat Saints move to take it to 23-15, Lamb who had a cool game controlling things missed the conversion and kept the door open for Quins. Joe Marler then grounded a maul which had seen the Quins backs add weight and the conversion from Evans made it 22-23. Leaving us with a nail biting last few minutes. Evans then stepped up and slotted a penalty to give Quins the 25-23 win.
Lets hope the Harlequins get back to their normal game in the final as for much of this they did not get width on the game or release the full power of their back line. Saints will be disappointed they could not create the platform they expected up front.
Final score: Harlequins 25-23 Northampton
Cons : Evans
Pens: Evans 6
Pens: Lamb 6
Harlequins: Brown; Williams, Lowe, Turner-Hall, S Smith; Evans, Dickson; Marler, Gray, Johnston; Kohn, Robson; Fa’asavalu, Robshaw (C), Easter.
Replacements: Hopper for S. Smith (70), Guest for Fa’asavalu (68).
Northampton: Foden; Artemyev, Pisi, Downey, Diggin; Lamb, Dickson (C); Tonga’uiha, Long, Mujati; Sorenson, Day; Craig, Dowson, Wilson.
Replacements: May for Downey (76), A. Waller for Tonga’uiha (65), McMillian for Long (61), Doran-Jones for Mujati (57), Harrison for Craig (63), Nutley for Wilson (76).
Sin Bin: Wilson (34).
Ref: Andrew Small (RFU).
Final: 26 May 14:30 Twickenham Live on ESPN UK