Premiership: Chris Boyd delighted with Northampton’s resilience after win over Harlequins

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 Credit: PA Images
Credit: PA Images

Chris Boyd was delighted by his Northampton Saints side’s resilience as they dug deep to claim a thrilling 32-31 victory over Harlequins with James Grayson their hero as he kicked a long range penalty in the game’s closing stages.

The win consolidated Northampton‘s position amongst the Premiership‘s frontrunners and they are well set for a play-off spot.

They were made to work hard for the result, however, as they lost four forwards – Juarno Augustus, Conor Carey, Paul Hil and Alex Coles – to injury before half-time.

Harlequins comeback

Saints held a 26-17 lead at the break but Quins came back strongly in the second half and took the lead in the latter stages of the match before Grayson sealed the home side’s win with that 50-metre place-kick in the 77th minute.

In the end, Grayson contributed 12 points courtesy of two penalties and three conversions while Tommy Freeman, Lewis Ludlam, George Furbank and Alex Waller scored Saints’ tries.

Andre Esterhuizen, Huw Jones, Alex Dombrandt and Cadan Murley crossed the whitewash for Harlequins and their other points came via the boot of Marcus Smith, who slotted four conversions and a penalty.

“Because of the injuries, we weren’t able to give any relief to our forwards, who were running on empty in the second half,” said Boyd.

“It was a gutsy effort from the whole team, especially the pack to hang in there and stay connected for long enough to secure the territory to win a couple of penalties at the death.

“Since our win against Wasps, we’ve been playing knockout rugby each week and the group seem to be enjoying it as just one defeat could result in the season being all over.

“It’s always nice to win, but more so against a good side by playing well. We have been chugging along without a really good performance, but to defeat a strong Harlequins side is particularly satisfactory.”

Harlequins senior coach Tabai Matson couldn’t hide his disappointment after his team failed to clinch the win following their excellent second half fightback.

“We were lucky to be only nine points down at the interval as they were a bit sharper than us, but we did well to manage both the yellow card and the passive scrums,” he said.

“However, with two minutes to go, we should be able to close out the game and sneak a valuable away victory, but if you come to the Gardens and are not at your best then you don’t get the result.

“Winning wasn’t to be as it was a tough penalty call by the referee, but our boys were slow into the breakdown and we will have to review that.

“The defeat means we haven’t got a ‘Q’ next to our name for qualification for the play-offs, so we will do our best to secure that next week against Gloucester, but we’ll have to improve dramatically if we are to retain our title.

“It’s strange that Boydy and I will be watching games tomorrow and will be cheering on different sides for results in one’s favour, but tonight was a magnificent spectacle and a really good game of rugby.”

Quins finished the match with 14 men after veteran scrum-half Danny Care was yellow carded for dissent.

“Danny is a jovial lad but he is a fierce competitor and was evidently fuming at the decision,” said Matson.

READ MORE: Premiership: James Grayson the hero as Northampton Saints edge out Harlequins at Franklin’s Gardens

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