Northampton Wanderers booked their place in their third Premiership Rugby A League Final in three years with a convincing win over Harlequins.
The game was a strongly contested affair, with both sides picking up a number of great tries, but the Wanderers overcame tough opposition with a big performance at the Gardens.
Their win means the Wandies will be in their second consecutive A League final at Franklin's Gardens, and will be looking to replicate last years success in a week's time.
Like most Wandies games this season, it didn’t take long for them to get the first try, with two rolling mauls dominating the Quins pack; Francois van Wyk picked up his first try for the Wanderers in the process to go 7-0 ahead just five minutes in.
James Lang stepped up to the tee for the first Quins points of the game with a quick penalty kick to close the lead following a good retaliation from the away side.
Another front-rower crossed the whitewash for Wandies, this time it was Charlie Clare with yet another maul overwhelming the visitors and heaving them back more than ten metres for Northampton to pick up their second score.
The forwards were ruthless once again and worked the ball out well for Grayson to make the long pass wide to his left flank for Tom Collins to pick up the pass and assist Nafi Tuitavake over the line for the third try, bringing the score up to 19-3 with the first quarter done and dusted.
Quins were eventually rewarded for their efforts in attack, as more than 20 phases wore the Wanderers down, and a gap opened for Josh Ibuanokpe to break through and reduce his side’s deficit.
Grayson added another three points with a sublime penalty from 45 metres out, and his side continued their search for a fourth try with half time beckoning.
Northampton made one last push for the line before the break, and led the charge well but a knock on just five metres shy brought the half to a close, with Wandies leading 22-10.
The Wanderers were quick to replicate their first half dominance in the forward pack, with another rolling maul crossing the line in the corner, but an infringement by Harlequins resulted in a penalty try for the hosts.
Despite the man disadvantage, Quins responded in strong fashion and clawed at the try line, looking for their second try; that came from another penalty try, with Ben Nutley conceding the score on the line and leaving both teams with 14 men.
Wandies were next to score as the flurry of second half tries continued with Lewis Ludlam restoring order following a superb offload back into the field of play, and a big charge from the back-rower to make it 36-17.
Ibuanokpe ran a strong line through the Wandies defence to dot down for his second of the night, but Lang couldn’t add the extras with his conversion slipping wide with just over 15 minutes to play.
In a fine passage of play, Wandies recovered the ball from behind their try line, and cleared the ball as Tom Stephenson won the penalty, the elation on his face said it all as his side edged closer to a place in the final.
Tom Collins crossed for try number six as the clock ran down; the full back waited for the ball, and his patience paid off as he ran through two defenders and dotted under the sticks to all but seal the win for his team.
Henry Cheeseman scored a late consolation for Quins as the maul bundled over the line, but referee Adam Leal blew the final whistle, as Northampton Wanderers secured a place in the A League final against Exeter Braves.
WANDIES Collins; Tuitavake, Dingwall, Stephenson (capt), Pisi; Grayson, Mitchell; Van Wyk, Clare, Painter, Moon, Onojaife, Ryan, Ludlam, Nutley
Subs Fish, Beesley, Trinder, Collins, Allman, Kessell, Strachan, Elliott
QUINS Swiel; Chisholm, Sloan, Cheeseman, Ibitoye; Lang, Waters; Boyce, Crumpton, Swainston, Okafor, Ibuanokpe, South (capt), White, Lamb
Subs Head, Lambert, McNulty, Flashman, Kenningham, Lewis, Hennessey, Murley
4’ WANDIES Try Van Wyk Conversion Grayson 7-0
8’ QUINS Penalty Lang 7-3
13’ WANDIES Try Clare 12-3
20’ WANDIES Try Tuitavake Conversion Grayson 19-3
31’ QUINS Try Ibuanokpe Conversion Lang 19-10
36’ WANDIES Penalty Grayson 22-10
HALF-TIME Wandies 22-10 Quins
44’ WANDIES Penalty Try 29-10
51’ QUINS Penalty Try 29-17
54’ WANDIES Try Ludlam Conversion Grayson 36-17
62’ QUINS Try Ibuanokpe 36-22
69’ WANDIES Penalty Grayson 39-22
74’ WANDIES Try Collins Conversion Grayson 46-22
80’ QUINS Try Cheeseman 46-27
FULL-TIME Wandies 46-27 Quins