The Cinch Stadium at Franklins Gardens reverberated to the sound of everything going right as Saints put together one of their most complete performances of the season to earn a bonus point win over Quins.
Saints went into the Christmas break with a string of defeats behind them but came out of it aggressive, accurate and disciplined as they drove the visitors backwards with combinations of guile and gristle.
Scores came from James Ramm twice, Alex Waller, George Furbank, Lukhan Salakaia-Loto and replacement Rory Hutchinson. Fin Smith kicked two conversions before being replaced at half time and Furbank added two penalties and three conversions.
Harlequins had only a Tommy Allan penalty until Jordan Els and Nick David managed consolation tries late in the game, both converted by Will Edwards.
The obvious question, after the pre-Christmas struggles, is what went right this time? The answer is not straightforward. The usual things went right. It would be nice if it was as simple as saying Salakaia-Loto at six or Ramm on the wing gave Saints the turbo-charge that made the difference. For sure Ramm and Freeman attacking on the same wing was a potent deployment of chaotic good but Saints overall improved discipline was equally significant.
Saints players talk about getting their processes right and when that happens other problems don’t seem so big or they don’t happen at all.
This was Saints biggest win against Quins who were certainly not on top form but it says something about the quality of Alex Dombrandt at 8 for the visitors that he still looked like a class act.
Nothing could have emphasised more that Quins were living in Saints world than the bizarre sudden hailstorm that accompanied Hutchinson’s try ten minutes from the end. For Quins it must have felt like the end of some horrific initiation ceremony, the ice bucket challenge after a bad old day at the office. But for Saints it was as close as you get to a champagne supernova on January 1, in the East Midlands.
Pictures by Dave Ikin