Aviva Premiership: Defending champions Harlequins leapfrog Northampton
Last Updated: 04/05/13 5:17pm
Defending champions Harlequins secured third place in the Aviva Premiership thanks to a thrilling 22-19 victory at home to Northampton.
Both sides will have to win on their travels in the play-off semi-finals next weekend to advance to the Twickenham showpiece.
Right wing Tom Williams, hooker Rob Buchanan and centre Tom Casson scored tries for Quins, with fly-half Nick Evans landing two conversions and a penalty in a feast of attacking rugby.
Saints replied with tries from left wing Jamie Elliott, hooker Dylan Hartley and lock Christian Day, on his 100th appearance for the club.
Fly-half Stephen Myler converted two of the tries but had earlier missed two penalties and a conversion. They were narrowly denied victory in the end after rallying from 22-5 down.
Evans kicked Harlequins into an 11th-minute lead with a simple 20-metre penalty and they increased it 11 minutes later when a finely judged kick down the right touchline by Danny Care bounced perfectly for Williams to sprint to the line for a try converted by Evans.
Northampton bounced back as Foden's kick behind the Quins defence enabled Elliott to collect and race clear for the line. Myler's conversion from the left touchline drifted wide.
Quins scored their second try less than two minutes into the second half when flanker Luke Wallace flicked up a pass as he was tackled for Buchanan to charge through and ground the ball on the foot of the post.
Referee Wigglesworth referred to the TMO before allowing the try, converted by Evans.
Quins struck again in the 51st minute following a tremendous break through the middle by Care. He was stopped just short but number eight Nick Easter moved the ball on before George Lowe supplied the final pass for his centre partner Casson to touch down.
Northampton launched a fightback which produced 14 points in a seven-minute spell.
A superbly executed rolling maul enabled Hartley to celebrate his British and Irish Lions selection with a try before a great passing move along the line ended with Day crossing for their third try.
Myler converted both to set up a grandstand finish but Quins held on to their slender lead.