Tom Vickers’ Harlequins v Northampton Saints view and player ratings

WELL DONE - Stephen Myler congratulates James Wilson after his match-winning try at Harlequins (picture: Linda Dawson)

WELL DONE - Stephen Myler congratulates James Wilson after his match-winning try at Harlequins (picture: Linda Dawson)

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On the night BT Sport chose to broadcast their game to the nation for free, Saints may not have won too many new fans.

But Friday’s success at The Stoop was one for those who have been behind the team since September, 2010: the last time Northampton won at Harlequins.

It wasn’t a pretty performance. In fact, at times, it was downright ugly. But it was so effective.

Saints ground out a victory in the south-west London mudbath and how good it felt for those supporters who have seen so many close encounters with Quins in recent years.

In 2012, it was the last-gasp Premiership semi-final heartache, surrendering an eight-point lead in the final 13 minutes of the game to miss out on a place in the Premiership showpiece.

Last season, though the game was a dead rubber, Saints were edged out by three points despite a spirited showing.

But this time was different. The line was in sight and no one was stopping Jim Mallinder’s men from making it.

James Wilson, the man for all weathers, and most backline positions, was the match-winner, showing great intelligence to bend his run and latch onto a pass to slide over in the corner.

And George North also showed his immense worth with a rambunctious run that saw him hold off three men and put his side in enemy territory before the crucial try was scored.

However, as good a moments as some of Saints’ backs had, this was a game for the forwards. A real power struggle, eventually won by Dorian West’s well-drilled pack.

It is far too early to say that on nights like these champions are made, but Saints are certainly displaying the qualities required from a team who can challenge.

In the space of six days, they have shown they can ally silk with steel, using style to see off Exeter Chiefs and strength to shoot down Quins.

Plenty more tough challenges await, and many will be far more aesthetically pleasing than this, but few will be as satisfying for those of a Saints persuasion.

How they rated...

BEN FODEN

Was always going to be a difficult night for the full-backs, the last line of defence, but the England man stood up to the test well and made a great tackle on Brown... 7

KEN PISI

Looks more dangerous by the game and threatened the Quins line to the point where he almost slid over it... 7

JAMES WILSON

Such a clever player and his intelligence was there for all to see as he claimed the try that won the game for Saints. A real asset... 8

LUTHER BURRELL

Yet another top display from the centre, who was the star of the show against Exeter a week earlier... 8

GEORGE NORTH

His lung-busting run towards the line carried Saints into enemy territory and allowed them to gain the ground needed to send Wilson over for the crucial score... 7

STEPHEN MYLER

Had a far better night that the Quins kickers, but blotted his copybook slightly with a late yellow card... 7

KAHN FOTUALI’I

Tough night to make his first start but handled the conditions well and his box-kicking will put Saints in some great positions this season... 7

ALEX CORBISIERO

Gave former Saint Paul Doran-Jones a tough time in the scrum, turning on the power to help Saints assert their authority... 8

DYLAN HARTLEY

The captain seemed to be involved in every forward charge, cajolling his team-mates to break down the Quins rearguard... 8

TOM MERCEY

Had a real scrap with Joe Marler up front and was forced to exit the action earlier than he would have liked due to injury... 7

COURTNEY LAWES

Like Mercey, also came off early in the second half, but not before he’d made some typically big hits... 7

CHRISTIAN DAY

Adds so much wisdom to the Saints pack and is so vital in a set piece that didn’t allow Quins any opportunities to strike... 7

TOM WOOD - CHRON STAR MAN

Another big display from the England star, who leads by example and drove Saints forward in horrible conditions... 8

CALUM CLARK

Made his first start of the season and showed plenty of energy on a stodgy night at The Stoop... 7

SAMU MANOA

Is an expert at taking the high ball and didn’t let it slip as he ensured Saints remained watertight in defence... 7

Replacements (who played more than 20 minutes)

SAM DICKINSON (for Lawes 43)

Continued the form that saw him excel against Exeter, making some great charges to get Saints on the front foot... 7

GARETH DENMAN (for Mercey 45)

Is looking like a real find as he learns his trade in the Premiership and certainly let no one down here... 7

PHIL DOWSON (for Clark 58)

The experienced back row is a great man to bring off the bench and he helped steady the ship after the concession of a couple of early second-half penalties... 7

LEE DICKSON (for Fotuali’i 58)

Brings plenty of tempo to proceedings and helped his team turn the tables on Quins to record the win... 7

JAMIE ELLIOTT (for Pisi 58)

Played a key role in Wilson’s winning try and is never too far away from the try-scoring action... 7