Home SPORTS Premiership: Northampton Saints 36-33 Harlequins – Ollie Sleightholme scores twice as hosts...

Premiership: Northampton Saints 36-33 Harlequins – Ollie Sleightholme scores twice as hosts win thriller

Ollie Sleightholme scored the first and last of Northampton’s five tries in their win over Harlequins
Northampton: (21) 36
Tries: Sleightholme 2, Ludlam, Mitchell, Coles Cons: Furbank 4 Pens: Furbank
Harlequins: (12) 33
Tries: Murley, Walker, Hammond, Evans, Jibulu Cons: Smith 4

Two tries from Ollie Sleightholme helped Northampton beat Harlequins in a Franklin’s Gardens thriller to win a fourth Premiership match of the season.

The wing top and tailed Saints’ night, with tries in between from Lewis Ludlam, Alex Mitchell and Alex Coles.

Quins scored the opening try of the game through wing Cadan Murley before Jack Walker, lock George Hammond and Will Evans kept them in the game.

But it needed Nathan Jibulu’s late try to earn a losing bonus point.

This was a second consecutive defeat for Harlequins after last weekend’s hammering at home to Saracens and they were made to pay for two unforced errors.

They overthrew a lineout inside their own 22 that Courtney Lawes pounced on for Saints before quick hands sent Ludlam over.

Then on the stroke of half-time they failed to control the ball at the back of their own scrum 15 metres from their line and scrum-half Mitchell took the loose ball to kick ahead and dive over.

Until then the sides had exchanged tries, with Murley’s score in the left corner cancelled out by Sleightholme’s first try as he picked a great line to go over from a lineout.

Trailing 21-12 at half-time, Quins responded by sending Hammond into the right corner but Saints soon secured a try bonus point as a half-break from Mitchell led to Coles scoring under the posts.

Evans burrowed in from close range to again bring Quins back to within a score but Saints scored their fifth try with a slick lineout move that ended up with Sleightholme’s second try as he took George Hendy’s pass to score in the right corner.

Jibulu used his strength to go over and cut Saints’ lead to three points with a minute left, but the home side held on to deny Quins a dramatic late comeback.

Northampton head coach Sam Vesty told BBC Radio Northampton:

“I thought it was a cracking game of rugby and I thought we played really well because Quins are a difficult team to get rid of.

“We forced a few things we didn’t need to force and as soon as we stopped doing that we managed to get across the line.

“I thought Ollie [Sleightholme] was outstanding because he’s been out for a long time but good things come to those who wait.”

Harlequins coaching co-ordinator Danny Wilson told TNT Sports:

“We looked more like ourselves tonight but we gifted two tries from our own exits so that’s frustrating.

“Ultimately we’ll look back on some moments when we could manage the game better.

“We can build on this but it’s hard to look back that we’ve lost the game having scored 33 points.”

Northampton: Hendy; Sleightholme, Freeman, Dingwall, Ramm; Furbank, Mitchell; E Waller, Matavesi, Davison, Munga, Coles, Lawes, Pearson, Ludlam (capt).

Replacements: Cruse, A Waller, Millar Mills, Lockett, Scott-Young, James, Savala, Litchfield.

Harlequins: Green; Murley, Joseph, Esterhuizen, Lynagh; Smith, Care; Baxter, Walker, Lewis, Herbst, Hammond, Lamb, W Evans, Dombrandt (capt).

Replacements: Jibulu, Garcia Botta, Chawatama, Cunningham-South, Chisholm, Porter, J Evans, Beard.

Referee: Sara Cox

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