Harlequins 19 Northampton Saints 20: Tom Vickers' review and player ratings

In the build-up to Saints' clash with Harlequins, Chris Boyd used the same phrase in several interviews.

Sunday, 14th April 2019, 9:07 pm
Updated Sunday, 14th April 2019, 9:17 pm
Saints secured a crucial win at Harlequins on Saturday afternoon

He was that happy with it that he repeated it to one of his players after concluding the weekly media session.

"Cometh the hour, cometh the man, eh Reecey," he said to Reece Marshall as he merrily left the room at Franklin's Gardens after completing his interview duties.

It was apt that Marshall was the player moving into the media hotseat in Boyd's place as the hooker is perhaps the best example of Saints' squad depth this season.

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With Dylan Hartley, Mike Haywood and James Fish injured, Marshall has stepped up in strong fashion.

Cometh the hour, cometh the Marshall.

And he's not the only one.

Time and again this season, players have answered Boyd's call to fill in for injured team-mates - and they've done it well.

Piers Francis made a vital tap tackle on Nathan Earle, who suffered an unfortunate injury

In recent weeks it has been particularly necessary to have talented replacements as Saints have been hit with more injuries than an army in Game of Thrones.

They had 17 before naming the team to travel to Quins and were then hit by the withdrawal of Mitch Eadie on the eve of the match.

And when battle began, things only got worse as George Furbank and Piers Francis were forced off with injuries and Ahsee Tuala had to exit the stage with cramp.

Then, to exacerbate the situation, Saints, who scored in the final minute thanks to super-sub Alex Mitchell, were unable to call on their world-class fly-half for the crucial conversion as Dan Biggar had also suffered a problem that prevented him kicking.

Ahsee Tuala scored Saints' first try of the match

But cometh the hour, cometh the man once again. And this time it was James Grayson who delivered.

In a moment reminiscent of so many during the title-winning season of 2013/14, when 'Iceman' Stephen Myler continually landed late, match-winning kicks, Grayson held his nerve to slot a far from easy conversion.

The Academy graduate will have watched Myler deliver those big moments - now it was hit turn.

And how vital it could be as Saints closed the gap to Quins, who currently occupy the final play-off place despite having lost four successive matches.

Taqele Naiyaravoro caught up with Alofa Alofa after the game

The home side have not impressed in either meeting with Saints this season and they should have been much further behind than the 13-6 lead the black, green and gold held at half-time.

Boyd's team had bossed the first period, dominating at the breakdown and in the set piece, while showing far more strength in defence than they had against Gloucester just in days earlier.

Quins did do better after the break but it would have been a huge missed opportunity if Saints had not walked away with the win.

Because although they were continually forced to reshuffle - Grayson came on at full-back and scrum-half Cobus Reinach ended the game on the wing - they still looked like a far worthier top-four side.

And with players like Mitchell and Grayson continuing to show maturity, confidence and composure well beyond their years, they look primed to challenge for the play-offs not only this season but in many to come.

How they rated...


Didn't have any time to make a real impact as he suffered a head injury and was stretchered off after receiving lengthy medical attention


Did everything he had to extremely effectively and managed to etch his name on the scoresheet with a simple finish out wide before being forced off with cramp... 8


Was tested defensively, but looked as classy as ever in attack, with his tidy break and offload opening the door for Saints' opening try... 7


Had to come off early in the second half with a knee injury but had done well up to that point, making a crucial tap tackle on Nathan Earle... 7


Tried to make things happen in attack, getting some key metres under his belt, and even produced a big counter-ruck in a decent enough display... 6


Controlled the game well for Saints during the first half and battled on bravely after taking some big knocks, eventually doing some good breakdown work to help his side score late on... 8


Buzzed around in trademark fashion for the full 80 minutes and provided vital support for Alex Mitchell's late try... 7


A really strong showing from the prop, who just keeps getting better and better. He won some crucial turnovers and also impressed in the set piece... 8


His passing was a bit off in the first period but he made a crucial turnover to help Saints grab their first try and he was good in the set piece... 7


Another strong showing from the prop as he gave Harlequins a tough time in the scrum and battled on after a blood injury... 7


Made 14 tackles without missing one and he continually tried to carry Saints through traffic to victory... 8


Always a key presence for the team and this was no different as he overcame a clash of heads with Hill to produce another good showing... 7


The flanker was unable to stop Jack Clifford from scoring but that wasn't really his fault as he was left in a difficult situation and he largely did well... 6


A great man to be able to bring back into the squad as his work rate and determination really showed throughout... 7


Another hugely eventful afternoon for the No.8, who displayed trademark tenacity and his tempo play as he topped the tackle count, making 18 and missing none... 8

Replacements (who played more than 20 minutes)

ANDREW KELLAWAY (for Furbank 15)

Missed a couple of tackles but he was impressive going forward, adding a real spark to Saints' play as he kept Quins on their toes... 7

JAMES GRAYSON (for Francis 44)

A superb cameo from the 20-year-old, who not only held his nerve to land the match-winning conversion but who made a try-saving tackle from full-back to stop Marcus Smith... 8

BEN FRANKS (for Hill 51)

Used his experience and made his tackles as Saints showed great character to battle back late on... 6