Posted: 29.12.21 at 10:05 by @Harlequins
Over 72,000 tickets were issued for Big Game 13 as supporters were treated to a day packed full of entertainment inside and outside the stadium, with DJ Pete Tong performing between the Women's and Men's games, a spectacular lightshow, fairground attractions and much more on show!
Determined to put the dampener in Quins big day Saints struck first at HQ, rumbling towards the line and sending South African number eight Juarno Augustus over the line from short range. Saints fly-half Dan Biggar added the conversion to give the visitors a perfect start.
Quins were lighting fast in reply as the locals stole back possession from the kick-off, quickly making their way to the line. Number eight Alex Dombrandt was the man to go over in the left corner for the first of his hat-trick scores for the day after finding a gap in the fringes of Saints’ defence. Fly-half Will Edwards added the conversion to bring the two sides level.
It rained points at Twickenham with Augustus claiming his second score in an immediate reply, with the back row crossing in almost exactly the same spot as his first. Biggar nailed the conversion once again, bringing his side back into a seven-point lead.
Saints struck for consecutive scores for their back row to put pain to Quins’ party, with captain and openside Lewis Ludlam finding space down the left touchline, wriggling and powering his way out of the clutches of Quins’ defenders to touch down for his score. Once again Biggar’s kick was true, handing Saints a 14-point advantage.
Points continued to flow unchecked, with Quins attaining a foothold with back-to-back tries for winger Cadan Murley as the team twice manufactured space down the left flank for the young back to claim his brace. Edwards slotted both kicks, bringing the scores level once more at 21-points apiece.
The deluge of tries was permeated with a touch of pragmatism from Northampton, with Wales and British and Irish Lions international Biggar opting for the posts after Quins were penalised deep within their own half. Biggar’s kick was true once again, allowing Saints to recover their lead; albeit reduced to three points this time around.
Dombrandt picked up his second try in the final seconds of the first half after combining well with scrum-half Danny Care. Quins established field position with a driving lineout inside the Saints 22, rumbling towards the corner flag before Care grabbed the ball from out the back of the huddle before firing it to an incoming Dombrandt in lightning-fast fashion for the score. Edwards couldn’t add the conversion this time, but Quins headed into the changing rooms ahead by two points.
The second half started with further pragmatism from Saints, with Joe Marchant penalised for kicking the ball away after a Quins knock-on, Biggar again opted for the posts, taking his side back into a one-point lead.
Quins had other ideas contrary to Saints’ pragmatism, however. After a gritty period that saw tempers flair amongst the forwards, Quins absorbed Northampton attacking pressure before regaining possession.
Wing Louis Lynagh was the man to benefit from a half break by back row Tom Lawday, with the blindside offloading to Luke Northmore, on for Cadan Murley, who tore through a gap in the Saints defence before drawing his man and passing the ball on to Lynagh. Lynagh’s sprint for the score was a full 40 meters, diving into the corner just in time to beat the attentions of opposite man Courtnall Skosan. Another tough touchline conversion for Edwards was missed, but Quins were back into the lead, this time four points ahead.
Quins eventually opted for a pragmatic approach to the scoreboard, with Edwards adding his first penalty of the day to take extend the lead to seven points after the Saints were pulled up by referee Wayne Barnes in their own half.
Tempers flared once more in the final five minutes, with Care and Saints centre Rory Hutchinson sent to the sin bin, bringing an end to their afternoons as both sides played out the rest of the game with 14 men.
In true Quins style, Dombrandt signed off the day with his hattrick score, spinning and finding space off the back of a scrum five metres from Saints’ line and powering over for the try. Player of the Match Andre Esterhuizen added the conversion to seal the win and bring an end to the day. 41-27 at Big Game 13 for Harlequins.
* Next Game: Gloucester vs Harlequins. Kingsholm Stadium. Sunday, January 2, 15:00 kick-off.
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