Saints thoroughly deserved their victory, with fly-half Ryan Lamb kicking 13 points and Ben Foden and Roger Wilson scoring tries, while Harlequins were left rueing the absence of first choice fly-half Nick Evans and the number eight Nick Easter being sin-binned in the first half.
Saints piled up a decisive 11-point lead with Easter in the sin bin, and Evans’s replacement Rory Clegg missed two kickable penalties early in the second half just as Quins looked like mounting a comeback.
With England’s interim head coach Stuart Lancaster in the stands there was plenty of incentive to perform for a number of players hoping to be named in the England Six Nations squad next week.
Lamb then put Saints 3-0 ahead with a penalty after 12 minutes, before his side took a grip on the match with some compelling forward play. Pounding at the Quins line, they drew a string of penalties until referee Dave Pearson lost patience with the visitors and sin-binned Easter. Saints made the most of their numerical advantage, with Lamb slotting a drop goal and Ben Foden scoring a well-taken try wide on the right to extend the lead to 11-0. Lamb missed the difficult conversion but did add a second penalty soon after.
Although Clegg pulled a penalty back, Lamb’s successful kick on the stroke of half-time. Saints continued to control the match in the second half and were well worth the victory.
Scorers: Northampton – Tries: Foden, Wilson. Cons: Lamb. Pens: Lamb 3. Drop Goals: Lamb. Harlequins – Pens: Clegg.
Northampton: Foden; Ashton, Pisi, Downey, Cato; Lamb, Dickson; Tonga’uiha, Hartley, Doran-Jones, Manoa, Sorenson, Dowson, Wood, Wilson. Replacements: May for Downey (72), Myler for Lamb (73), Roberts for Dickson (64), A. Waller for Tonga’uiha (64), Haywood for Hartley (72), Mujati for Doran-Jones (51), Day for Sorenson (69), Nutley for Wood (69). Sin Bin: Sorenson (58).
Harlequins: Brown; Williams, Hooper, Turner-Hall, Monye; Clegg, Care; Marler, Brooker, Johnston, Kohn, Robson, Robshaw, Wallace, Easter. Replacements: S. Smith for Williams (50), Urdapilleta for Clegg (63), Lambert for Marler (57), Gray for Brooker (40), Fairbrother for Johnston (69), Vallejos for Kohn (60), Bolt for Robson (78), Guest for Wallace (50). Sin Bin: Easter (20).