Planet Rugby

Marler late show sinks Saints

12th May 2012 14:26

Share:

Harlequins Northampton semi final

Bruising first-half: Fa'asavalu

Harlequins booked their place in the Aviva Premiership Final with a hard-fought 25-23 win over Northampton at Twickenham Stoop on Saturday.

The home side needed a 77th-minute push-over try, awarded to loosehead prop Joe Marler, to snatch victory after trailing 9-12 at the break.

Saints had led 23-15 with ten minutes left to play after a try from scrum-half Lee Dickson, but could not hold out the regular-season winners.

In truth the statistics were heavily in the favour of Quins, who had made a lot less tackles and enjoyed most of the territory throughout. However, it was Saints holding on to a two-score advantage with three minutes remaining before Marler struck the decisive blow after a strong catch-and-drive.

The opening half was dominated by the place-kicking of the respective fly-halves, but it was the Saints' Ryan Lamb who had the better of the battle, scoring four penalties to Nick Evans' three.

Even though there were more attacking opportunities in the second period, the game continued in the same vein. Evans kicked three penalties to Lamb's two before Dickson's try seemed to have sealed the win, but another three points from the hosts' pivot reduced the gap and then Marler went over.

Both teams went in with a record of winning four of their past five matches, but it was Quins who scored first through the boot of Evans. His opposite number has a reputation for cracking under the pressure of a big occasion and had a mixed start to this encounter. Although Lamb made several mistakes in the opening ten minutes, he kicked a well-struck penalty to level matters.

Lamb then took Northampton into the lead with a second three-pointer which just snuck over the bar before the hosts' fly-half responded with one of his own almost immediately.

The visiting kicker restored the Saints' advantage, but once again Harlequins hit back with their first real attack of the half.

Maurie Fa'asavalu was particularly prominent making two powerful surges and, under pressure, Roger Wilson cynically slowed the ball down and was subsequently yellow carded. Evans converted the resultant penalty opportunity before a further Lamb three-pointer saw Northampton into a 12-9 lead at the interval.

Despite a disappointing opening period, Quins started the second half in a far more assertive fashion and were rewarded with successive Evans' penalties. But, in a see-saw encounter, the visitors equalised through their fly-half before the same player kicked his sixth from the tee.

Then seemingly came the killer blow. After Saints' winger Vasily Artemyev had made a break, good work from George Pisi and James Downey sent Dickson over. However, the hosts showed incredible resistance to come back. Evans initially reduced the deficit with a penalty before Marler touched down for a converted score taking Quins to Twickenham.

The scorers:

For Harlequins:
Try: Marler
Con: Evans
Pens: Evans 6

For Northampton:
Try: L. Dickson
Pens: Lamb 6

Yellow card: Wilson (Northampton - 32nd min)

Harlequins: 15 Mike Brown, 14 Tom Williams, 13 George Lowe, 12 Jordan Turner-Hall, 11 Sam Smith, 10 Nick Evans, 9 Karl Dickson, 8 Nick Easter, 7 Chris Robshaw (capt), 6 Maurie Fa'asavalu, 5 George Robson, 4 Olly Kohn, 3 James Johnston, 2 Joe Gray, 1 Joe Marler.
Replacements: 16 Rob Buchanan, 17 Mark Lambert, 18 Will Collier, 19 Tomas Vallejos, 20 Tom Guest, 21 Richard Bolt, 22 Rory Clegg, 23 Matt Hopper.

Northampton: 15 Ben Foden, 14 Vasily Artemyev, 13 George Pisi, 12 James Downey, 11 Paul Diggin, 10 Ryan Lamb, 9 Lee Dickson (capt), 8 Roger Wilson, 7 Phil Dowson, 6 James Craig, 5 Christian Day, 4 Mark Sorenson, 3 Brian Mujati, 2 Andy Long, 1 Soane Tonga'uiha.
Replacements: 16 Ross McMillan, 17 Alex Waller, 18 Paul Doran-Jones, 19 Ben Nutley, 20 Teimana Harrison, 21 Martin Roberts, 22 Stephen Myler, 23 Tom May.

Referee: Andrew Small

Forthcoming Fixtures
FixtureDetails
All times are local
Rugby Championship
Saturday , August 23
New Zealand vs Australia08:35
Argentina vs South Africa20:40
More Rugby Championship fixtures
Top 14
Friday , August 22
Toulouse vs Castres20:45
Saturday , August 23
Brive vs Clermont Auvergne14:45
Toulon vs La Rochelle18:30
Bordeaux-Begles vs Racing Metro Paris18:30
Montpellier vs Grenoble18:30
Bayonne vs Oyonnax18:30
Stade Francais vs Lyon20:45
More Top 14 fixtures
Currie Cup
Friday , August 22
Pumas vs Griquas19:10
Saturday , August 23
Blue Bulls vs Eastern Province Kings15:00
Western Province vs Lions17:05
Sharks vs Cheetahs19:10
More Currie Cup fixtures
ITM Cup
Thursday , August 21
North Harbour vs Southland19:35
Friday , August 22
Waikato vs Canterbury18:05
Hawkes Bay vs Taranaki20:05
Saturday , August 23
Northland vs Wellington14:35
Counties Manukau vs Otago16:35
Sunday , August 24
Manawatu vs Auckland14:35
Bay Of Plenty vs Tasman16:35
More ITM Cup fixtures
Recent Results
FixtureDetails
All times are local
ITM Cup
Sunday , August 17
Tasman 35 - 15 Hawkes BayTasman vs Hawkes Bay Report
Northland 23 - 28 Manawatu
More ITM Cup results
Rugby Championship
Saturday , August 16
Australia 12 - 12 New ZealandAustralia vs New Zealand Report
South Africa 13 - 6 ArgentinaSouth Africa vs Argentina Report
More Rugby Championship results
Top 14
Clermont Auvergne 30 - 26 GrenobleClermont Auvergne vs Grenoble Report
Brive 37 - 15 La Rochelle
Montpellier 16 - 19 Racing Metro ParisMontpellier vs Racing Metro Paris Report
Bordeaux-Begles 18 - 9 Lyon
Castres 22 - 25 Stade Francais
Toulouse 20 - 19 Oyonnax
More Top 14 results
Currie Cup
Lions 60 - 19 Eastern Province KingsLions vs Eastern Province Kings Report
Western Province 41 - 17 Blue BullsWestern Province vs Blue Bulls Report
Cheetahs 34 - 27 GriquasCheetahs vs Griquas Report
More Currie Cup results
ITM Cup
Otago 28 - 14 North Harbour
Wellington 25 - 37 WaikatoWellington vs Waikato Report
Canterbury 48 - 9 AucklandCanterbury vs Auckland Report
More ITM Cup results
Top 14
Friday , August 15
Bayonne 15 - 29 ToulonBayonne vs Toulon Report
More Top 14 results
Currie Cup
Sharks 34 - 17 PumasSharks vs Pumas Report
More Currie Cup results
ITM Cup
Southland 34 - 23 Bay Of Plenty
Thursday , August 14
Taranaki 9 - 9 Counties ManukauTaranaki vs Counties Manukau Report
More ITM Cup results
Currie Cup
Saturday , August 9
Griquas 24 - 31 SharksGriquas vs Sharks Report
Pumas 28 - 21 CheetahsPumas vs Cheetahs Report
Lions 41 - 13 Blue BullsLions vs Blue Bulls Report
Friday , August 8
Eastern Province Kings 16 - 35 Western ProvinceEastern Province Kings vs Western Province Report
More Currie Cup results
Super Rugby
Saturday , August 2
Waratahs 33 - 32 CrusadersWaratahs vs Crusaders Report
More Super Rugby results
Aviva Premiership Table
PosTeamPPts
1Bath00
2Exeter00
3Gloucester00
4Harlequins00
5Leicester Tigers00