Harlequins to face Leicester Tigers in the Premiership final
09:36 13 May 2012
Harlequins 25 Northampton 23
Joe Marler’s heroic late try sent The Stoop wild as Harlequins overcame Northampton Saints in dramatic style to earn their place in their very first Aviva Premiership final.
The Londoners will face Leicester Tigers in the final after the Tigers toppled lead leaders Saracens 24-15 to reach their eighth successive semi final.
The atmosphere was tense as Nick Evans and opposing fly half Ryan Lamb kicked all the first half points.
The nerves showed as both teams played defensive rugby forcing referee Andrew Small to be strict around the breakdown.
An altercation between brothers Lee and Karl Dickson at scrum half following Andy Long’s penalisation, saw the penalty moved 10 metres further forward to allow Evans to steal the opening score of the match.
In the 10th minute Lamb levelled the scoring after Olly Kohn was pulled up for collapsing the maul.
Evans missed his second chance at goal while Lamb’s long-range effort from his own half was given after initially being ruled out but it had dropped just over the cross bar.
Evans restored equilibrium once more, slotting a second penalty on 18 minutes and with Quins under pressure from the Saints forwards, they were penalised once more for collapsing the maul and were punished again by the boot of Lamb.
Maurie Fa’asavalu swayed the game back into the host’s hands with some devastating running while the visitors lost number eight Roger Wilson to the sin bin.
Evans made it 9-9 with the resulting penalty but the tit-for-tat nature of the game continued as Lamb converted yet another penalty attempt to give Saints a 12-9 half time lead.
Quins started the second half with renewed vigour as and Evans pulled the scores level once more just eight minutes into the half.
In predictable fashion Lamb took his turn to kick his fifth successful penalty to take the scores to 15 apiece.
Lamb struck again to give his team the lead once more while Evans missed the chance to equalise.
Saints inflicted more pain on the 66th minute as skipper Dickson crossed the whitewash after some fantastic offloading for the first try of the match to potentially put a Twickenham appearance out of reach for the Londoners.
But with Lamb missing the conversion, a converted try was all Quins required to send The Stoop mad.
And in true fairy tale fashion and with four minutes on the clock, Quins last ditch effort paid off as a brutal driving maul saw Marler at the bottom of a pile of his team mates, ball in hand, for the win.
As Evans converted, the stands erupted.
Harlequins: Brown, Williams, Lowe, Turner-Hall, S Smith, Evans, Dickson, Marler, Gray, Johnston, Kohn, Robson, Fa’asavalu, Robshaw, Easter.
Replacements: Hopper for S. Smith, Guest for Fa’asavalu
Northampton: Foden, Artemyev, Pisi, Downey, Diggin, Lamb, Dickson, Tonga’uiha, Long, Mujati, Sorenson, Day, Craig, Dowson, Wilson.
Replacements: May for Downey, A. Waller for Tonga’uiha, McMillian for Long, Doran-Jones for Mujati, Harrison for Craig , Nutley for Wilson.