Ben Foden’s late try gives Northampton a 27-23 win against Harlequins
An exhilarating first half saw Saints hold a narrow 17-14 lead against Quins
The hosts led 23-17 heading into the closing stages
Saints though won it thanks to Foden’s last-gasp try combined with a penalty and conversion from JJ Hanrahan
A last minute Ben Foden try helped Northampton Saints to a 27-23 victory over struggling Harlequins at The Stoop.
Windy conditions limited the kicking options during the first half, so both sides produced some excellent running rugby in the first half, scoring two converted tries each.
George Merrick opened the try scoring for Quins before Christan Day dotted down for the visitors. Ross Chisholm then put the hosts back in front, but Luther Burrell’s score plus a penalty from Stephen Myler gave the away side a 17-14 lead at half-time.
Despite being reduced to 14 men just before the break, it was all Quins after the restart as Northampton struggled with the wind. Two penalties from Nick Evans put the hosts back in front, 20-17.
Evans added another three points, but a six point lead proved to not be enough as JJ Hanrahan knocked over a penalty before converting Foden’s last-gasp try to secure the win, 23-27.
Saints made an explosive start at the Stoop with Tom Wood driving over the line but the decision is referred upstairs, and he is denied by the TMO. The visitors though retained possession and Stephen Myler slotted an easy penalty through the posts to give them the lead.
However, following a Luther Burrell knock on, a period of excellent passing from Quins resulted in a try for George Merrick after seven minutes with Nick Evans confidently adding the conversion for the hosts, 7-3.
A try of the season contender from Saints though soon followed at The Stoop. Wood took the ball well under pressure and moved it out to Burrell, who sets off on an arching run down the wing. The centre’s offload finds Ken Pisi, who puts in Christian Day for an easy try under the posts. Myler then added conversion the conversion to give the visitors a three-point advantage.
Quins recaptured the lead through their fullback Ross Chisholm, who broke through the Saints’ defence to dot down before Evans added the extras, 14-10.
The visitors though responded with Burrell touching down following a great initial break from his midfield partner Harry Mallinder to create the space. Myler knocked over the conversion to give Saints a three-point lead.
The hosts Tito Tebaldi earned himself a yellow card just before the break for a deliberate knock-on as the referee Greg Garner brings the breathless first half to a close, 14-17.
Quins started the second half well despite being a man down, and turned the game on its head with two penalties, Evans successful with both kicks, making it 20-17.
As the hosts continued to dominate the game, Saints were reduced to 14 men as Wood saw yellow for forcing down the maul.
Northampton though with their first real period of pressure and was rewarded with a penalty. After much debate, JJ Hanrahan slotted the three points to make it all square at The Stoop, setting up a grandstand finish.
But Quins struck straight back. Replacement Ben Botica put his side ahead from the tee with six minutes to go, 23-20.
Saints were awarded a penalty late on, and decided to go for broke, and it was worth it. Foden took advantage of the Quins defence failing to clear, and took the ball over the line for the victory. Hanrahan added the extras to complete a memorable game.
Harlequins: 15 Ross Chisholm, 14 Marland Yarde, 13 Matt Hopper, 12 Harry Sloan, 11 Charlie Walker, 10 Nick Evans (c), 9 Tito Tebaldi, 8 Nick Easter, 7 Luke Wallace, 6 Mat Luamanu, 5 James Horwill, 4 George Merrick, 3 Kyle Sinckler, 2 Rob Buchanan, 1 Mark Lambert.
Replacements: 16 Joe Gray, 17 Owen Evans, 18 Will Collier, 19 Charlie Matthews, 20 Dave Ward, 21 Calum Waters, 22 Ben Botica, 23 Tim Swiel
Northampton: 15 Ben Foden, 14 Ken Pisi, 13 Luther Burrell, 12 Harry Mallinder, 11 Jamie Elliott, 10 Stephen Myler, 9 Lee Dickson (c), 8 Sam Dickinson, 7 Tom Wood, 6 Jamie Gibson, 5 Christian Day, 4 James Craig, 3 Kieran Brookes, 2 Mikey Haywood, 1 Alex Waller.
Replacements: 16 Reece Marshall, 17 Ethan Waller, 18 Gareth Denman, 19 Victor Matfield, 20 Teimana Harrison, 21 Tom Kessell, 22 JJ Hanrahan, 23 James Wilson
Date: Saturday, February 6
Venue: The Stoop
Kick-off: 14:00 GMT
Referee: Gregory Garner
Assistant Referees: Roger Baileff, Roy Maybank
TMO: Rowan Kitt