Quins and England number eight Alex Dombrandt completed his hat-trick with the last play of the game
Quins and England number eight Alex Dombrandt completed his hat-trick with the last play of the game
Harlequins (26) 41
Tries: Dombrandt 3, Murley 2, Lynagh Cons: Edwards 3, Esterhuizen Pens: Edwards
Northampton (24) 27
Tries: Augustus 2, Waller Cons: Biggar 3 Pens: Biggar 2

Defending champions Harlequins ended a memorable year victoriously as they climbed to third in the Premiership by narrowly edging past Northampton.

In a heated encounter, Saints led 21-7 at Twickenham after two early tries for Juarno Augustus and one for Alex Waller, all improved by Dan Biggar.

But Alex Dombrandt added a second to his own early try, matched by two from left winger Cadan Murley.

Louis Lynagh raced clear for a fifth try before Dombrandt crossed again.

While Quins had their try bonus point wrapped up before the break, it was rough luck on Saints who gave their all on a filthy wet day in south-west London but could not cross the whitewash again to claim a bonus point of their own.

In fact, their only second-half points were a Biggar penalty, to add to the one late in the first half that edged the visitors ahead going into the interval.

And they were even denied a losing bonus point when England number eight Dombrandt crashed over in the last play of the game, to which Andre Esterhuizen added the conversion.

Quins pair Jack Kenningham and Matt Symons were involved in a heated exchnage with Saints' Api Ratuniyarawa (left)
Quins pair Jack Kenningham and Matt Symons were part of a general second-half disagreement also involving Saints’ Api Ratuniyarawa (far left)

The game ended with 14 men-a-side when the superb Danny Care and Saints replacement Rory Hutchinson were both sinbinned after far from the first bout of pushing and shoving of the afternoon.

But Quins got the key final score as they completed the job, having shown what they can do even without the creative flair of Marcus Smith, after the England outside-half’s Covid-enforced absence.

While Smith was sidelined, Will Edwards proved an able deputy in this stunning game of nine tries in front of a 72,785 crowd, with seven scores in the first half, of which the first five came inside the first 18 minutes.

But, while all the big name players shone at HQ, Dombrandt’s stunning display will have given England boss Eddie Jones most reason to smile.

He picked a clever line to cross from close range to halt Saints’ lively start, then was was pivotal again when Quins went downfield, setting up the position for Edwards to send Murley over for the first of his brace.

Dombrandt then scored his second close to the break after being fed by scrum-half Care to give Quins the lead for the first time. And, although Biggar’s penalty quickly got Saints back in front, Lynagh outpaced Courtnall Skosan into the left corner – and Dombrandt had the final word when he completed his hat-trick.

Harlequins: Green; Lynagh, Marchant, Esterhuizen, Murley; Edwards, Care; Marler, Walker, Collier, Symons, Lewies (capt), Lawday, Kenningham, Dombrandt.

Replacements: Mush, Botta, Herrod, Tizard, Taulani, Gjaltema, Northmore, Jones.

Sin-bin: Care (74)

Northampton: Furbank; Sleightholme, Proctor, Dingwall, Skosan; Biggar, Mitchell Waller, Matavesi, Painter, Ribbans, Ratuniyarawa, Lawes, Ludlam (capt), Augustus.

Replacements: Fish, Auterac, Hill, Coles, Wood, James, Hutchinson, Tuala.

Sin-bin: Hutchinson (74).

Referee: Wayne Barnes.

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