Alex Mitchell’s last-gasp try ensured Northampton Saints claimed a vital 20-19 victory over Harlequins to close the gap on the top four and keep their Gallagher Premiership play-off hopes alive.
Marcus Smith’s boot put Quins in front after six minutes but Saints levelled through Dan Biggar and Ahsee Tuala scored to give Northampton a 10-3 lead before Smith and Biggar traded penalties.
And after the break the home side edged ahead with Jack Clifford scoring a try while Smith added another two penalties, until Mitchell’s try at the death and James Grayson’s superb conversion from out wide secured a dramatic victory for the men in Black, Green and Gold.
Quins started the game well and earned a penalty after a high tackle with Smith pointing to the posts, but the young fly-half sent the attempt wide.
In the sixth minute, Smith had another chance to put the home side in front and he made no mistake this time from in front of the sticks to put Quins 3-0 up.
However, just two minutes later Northampton secured a penalty at the breakdown which Biggar striped through the posts to level the scores.
Saints started to find their feet and some good work by Rory Hutchinson saw the away side break into the 22.
The ball came out wide on the right-hand side and Tuala was there to dot over in the corner and put Northampton in front, while Biggar successfully converted to give Saints a 10-3 lead.
Quins reduced the deficit in the 16th minute though when Smith scored another penalty, but Biggar re-established Northampton’s advantage through a penalty of his own at the 20-minute mark.
Despite a lot of pressure from Saints, where they twice came within metres of the try line, the Quins defence was able to prevent them from scoring again before the break and the men in Black, Green and Gold took a 13-6 lead into the sheds.
After half-time Quins improved but under pressure, Saints kept them out with a turnover on the five-metre line.
However, Northampton couldn’t prevent Quins from scoring when Clifford make a break to cross the whitewash for the home side; Smith successfully converted to bring the scores level at 13-13.
Quins got themselves back in front after Saints were penalised for not rolling away at the breakdown and Smith kicked the points.
Northampton however sparked into life once more with 20 minutes remaining and were camped five metres out from the try-line after multiple lineouts, but they couldn’t take advantage of a promising position as Quins turned over the ball.
With seven minutes of the match left, Smith successfully kicked his fourth penalty of the afternoon for the home side to extend their advantage.
However, in the 78th minute Saints came back into the game when Grayson caught a high ball under extreme pressure with Mitchell there to dart through the gap and score from 30 metres out.
And Grayson remained cool to successfully convert the try and give Northampton a 20-19 victory over Quins which see them move back to fifth in the Gallagher Premiership table.