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Harlequins put on finishing clinic to down Northampton

By PA
Cadan Murley flies through the air to score in the corner /PA

Harlequins hooker Jack Musk scored two tries as his side recorded a bonus-point 35-29 victory at home to Northampton in the Gallagher Premiership.

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At one stage the visitors trailed 28-10 before staging a spirited rally which had Quins hanging on, but Saints will rue giving their opponents a 14-point start and their inability to take a number of golden chances.

Quins gave them a lesson in finishing with Lennox Anyanwu, Luke Northmore and Cadan Murley also scoring tries. Marcus Smith converted all five.

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Lewis Ludlam, Tommy Freeman, George Furbank and Tom James scored Saints’ tries, with Dan Biggar converting three and adding a penalty.

Northampton made a dreadful start by conceding two converted tries in the opening six minutes.

Their woes started when their scrum retreated rapidly at the first engagement. They were penalised and Smith kicked for the corner before Musk drove over from the resulting line-out.

Harlequins v Northampton Saints - Gallagher Premiership - Twickenham Stoop
George Furbank is tackled /PA
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Careless handling from Saints then saw Joe Marchant pounce on the loose ball and send Anyanwu on a 50-metre run to the line for the second try.

Northampton rallied to dominate the remainder of the first quarter but continued to surrender possession with poor ball-retention.

Tom Collins and Emmanuel Iyogun both fumbled in promising positions so it was left to Biggar to put his side on the scoreboard with a straightforward penalty.

Three minutes later, Quins extended their lead with a superb try. They moved the ball sweetly along their three-quarter line to Northmore, who ran 30 metres to score on his 50th appearance for the club.

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Harlequins v Northampton Saints - Gallagher Premiership - Twickenham Stoop
Danny Care ready to rip at the base of a ruck /PA

Despite trailing 21-3, the visitors had enjoyed more possession and territory and their efforts were finally rewarded when skipper Ludlam crashed over under the posts.

Saints immediately followed this up with the move of the match, which covered over 70 metres and deserved a score, but Rory Hutchinson was forced into touch in the dead-ball area so Quins held a 21-10 lead at the interval.

Three minutes after the restart, Northampton suffered a setback when their Australian lock Lukhan Salakaia-Loto was yellow-carded for a high challenge.

Quins capitalised on his absence by scoring their bonus-point try when Musk finished off a driving line-out.

Salakaia-Lota returned from the sin-bin in time to see Freeman bring Saints back into contention by scoring their second try.

A comeback looked on the cards but Murley took advantage of some weak defending to squeeze in and put daylight between the teams.

Northampton secured two deserved bonus points late on with converted tries from Furbank and James.

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