Match Report – Harlequins 41 – 27 Northampton

Alex Dombrandt’s # 8 scores a hat-trick, winger Cadan Murley scores twice and winger Louis Lynagh once as the Harlequins come from behind to beat the Northampton Saints at Twickenham in the 2021 Big Game; Will Edwards adds three penalties and a makeover in the absence of Marcus Smith

Last updated: 27/12/21 19:30


Alex Dombrandt scored hat-trick as Harlequins came from behind to beat Northampton in Big Game

The Harlequins overcame Marcus Smith’s forced absence from Covid to overtake Northampton 41-27 at Twickenham in a win that propelled them to third in the Gallagher Premiership.

England opening half Smith was left out on Boxing Day, but Quins proved to remain an effective attacking machine even without his young ringmaster as Will Edwards emerged as a skilled deputy.

A breathtaking “Big Game 13” produced nine tries with five delivered in the first 18 minutes alone, but the champions were more ruthless in the setting of last season’s final Premiership triumph.

Number 8 Alex Dombrandt was at the center of their victory, with his three attempts the reward for smart running lines in a high quality match that was played in front of a crowd of 72,785.

England will open their Six Nations against Scotland on 5 February and Dombrandt’s compelling performance will have given Eddie Jones a lot to think about, even if he was beaten man of the match by Andre Esterhuizen.

Quins winger Cadan Murley scored twice at Twickenham

Quins winger Cadan Murley scored twice at Twickenham

Northampton were booed on the pitch once pre-match entertainment led by Pete Tong ended, but the hostile reception triggered a firing start from the Saints when Juarno Augustus fell from a lineout.

Quins responded when Dombrandt chose a smart line to cross from close range, but the lively opening continued as Augustus grounded a kick that went off George Furbank’s shin.

The Saints escalated their assault when Lewis Ludlam exited the left sideline and, once stopped inches from the line, Alex Waller was on hand to harvest and dig.

But Dombrandt was once again pivotal when Quins came onto the pitch, creating the position for Edwards to send Cadan Murley down an understaffed line.

Northampton No 8 Juarno Augustus scored two tries in the first 10 minutes

Northampton No 8 Juarno Augustus scored two tries in the first 10 minutes

Esterhuizen was punching the defense from inside the center and the champions once again showed their clinical touch as Edwards used his footwork to create space for Murley to run in his second.

The lead changed hands for the first time after half-time when a lineout chipped Northampton and, showing wit, Danny Care grabbed the ball to feed a running Dombrandt.

By the start of the second half time had clearly slowed down, indicating a temporary ceasefire for the fireworks that had lit Twickenham so far, and Saints returned the lead 27-26 when Dan Biggar scored a penalty.

Matt Symons and Api Ratuniyarawa clashed as tempers flared in the 52nd minute, but the scuffle resulted in another exhilarating end-to-end bout of play that ended when Louis Lynagh passed Courtnall Skosan in the left corner.

Dombrandt scored two tries in the first half and a third in the last minute

Dombrandt scored two tries in the first half and a third in the last minute

While Lynagh showed his gas to get past Skosan, it was the exhaust capabilities and vision of flanker Tom Lawday that made the goal as he created an opening out of thin air and supplied Luke Northmore, who delivered the final pass.

Quins’ lead was only four points, but they were heavily favored by a penalty tally that was starting to pile up against the visitors.

Demonstrating how close the match was, Quins went on goal for the first time in the final stages with Edwards on goal to extend the lead to a converted try.

Care and Rory Hutchinson were sent to the sin bin when another shoving bout broke out, but there was no way back for Northampton as Dombrandt completed his hat-trick with seconds left.

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