Fantastic Fotuali’i fires Saints past Harlequins

ON THE RUN - Saints winger George North, who had to leave the field in the first half with an injury, goes on the attack against Harlequins (Pictures: Linda Dawson)
ON THE RUN - Saints winger George North, who had to leave the field in the first half with an injury, goes on the attack against Harlequins (Pictures: Linda Dawson)

A stellar display from Kahn Fotuali’i helped propel Saints to an 18-10 victory against Harlequins and a place in the Amlin Challenge Cup final at Cardiff.

Fotuali’i scored one and brilliantly made another for Tom Collins, who was on as a replacement for the injured George North, as Jim Mallinder’s men charged into an 18-3 lead.

Pictures by Linda Dawson NNL-140425-211042006

Pictures by Linda Dawson NNL-140425-211042006

And with Stephen Myler adding eight points with the boot, they rarely looked back against a Harlequins side that posed little threat.

Nick Easter did issue a response in the second half, with Ben Botica registering five points with the boot, but it was Saints who powered into the May 23 showpiece.

They did so having lost Jamie Elliott to the sin bin inside the first four minutes and having lost North 17 minutes later.

Collins, who replaced the Wales wing midway through the first half, latched on to a clever kick from Fotuali’i to give Saints the lead.

Pictures by Linda Dawson NNL-140425-211027006

Pictures by Linda Dawson NNL-140425-211027006

And they never looked back as the ever-dangerous Fotuali’i added a second score before the break.

Harlequins rarely threatened and it took until they fell 15 points behind before they issued a retort.

But Saints held out to ensure they will take their place in a second final this season, following the LV= Cup loss to Exeter in March.

Mallinder’s men set about Quins from the off, even dominating while Elliott, who was yellow carded for taking Mike Brown in the air, was off the field.

Pictures by Linda Dawson NNL-140425-211017006

Pictures by Linda Dawson NNL-140425-211017006

Botica missed a penalty attempt during that time and when Elliott returned, Saints had something to build on having not conceded a point during the sin bin period.

That gave the home side a secure platform to build on and they took the lead through a Myler penalty.

And Saints were soon further ahead as after a bustling break from Ross McMillan, Fotuali’i landed a sweet chip in the hands of Collins, who touched down for a picturebook try.

Myler missed the conversion from out wide, but Saints were firmly on top, only being denied another try by a fumble at the last.

Pictures by Linda Dawson NNL-140425-211007006

Pictures by Linda Dawson NNL-140425-211007006

It took Quins 37 minutes to apply any pressure, but when they did some stern defending shut the door in their faces.

And the away side only had a penalty to show before the break, with Botica notching on the stroke of half-time.

Quins were dealt a blow at the break as England full-back Brown was unable to emerge for the second half, with the first half tackle from Elliott leaving him reeling.

And Quins soon missed the chance to narrow Saints’ lead further as Botica’s kick from to the left of the posts went wide.

Saints wasted little time in making them pay as Fotuali’i picked up a bouncing ball in midfield and sprinted clear of three Quins players to touch down.

The home crowd were loving every pass and every tackle from their side, with the players responding to the frisson of excitement around the Gardens.

Pictures by Linda Dawson NNL-140425-210917006

Pictures by Linda Dawson NNL-140425-210917006

Saints added to the expectation that they would close the game out by adding England duo Tom Wood and Courtney Lawes to the mix.

But Quins responded with a try, Easter using his power to dot down, with Botica’s conversion making things interesting at 18-10.

It wasn’t to be enough, though, as Saints stood tall to ensure they will have another shot at silverware in the Welsh capital next month.

Match facts

Saints: Wilson; Elliott, G Pisi, Stephenson (Burrell 67), North (Collins 21); Myler, Fotuali’i (Glynn 78); A Waller (Denman 72), McMillan (Haywood 67), Ma’afu (Mercey 53); Manoa (Lawes 58), Craig; Clark (Wood 58), Dowson (c), Dickinson.

Harlequins: Brown (Lindsay-Hague 40); Walker, Molenaar, Turner-Hall (Grimoldby 71), Smith; Botica, Care (K Dickson 59); Marler (Lambert 59), Ward, Sinckler (Doran-Jones 71); Matthews, Robson (Guest 34); Wallace (Fa’asavalu 45), Robshaw (c), Easter.

Replacements not used: Buchanan.

Referee: George Clancy (Ireland)

Pictures by Linda Dawson NNL-140425-210947006

Pictures by Linda Dawson NNL-140425-210947006