Danny Care and Tim Visser led the way with two tries apiece as Harlequins deepened the gloom surrounding Northampton Saints with a comprehensive hammering in front of a crowd of more than 77,000 for ‘Big Game 10’ at Twickenham.
It was Northampton’s second 50-point hammering at England’s national rugby stadium this season after they were similarly shredded by Saracens here, 55-24, on the opening day.
And whatever it is the Saints are expecting their incoming technical consultant Alan Gaffney to contribute when he starts work on Monday, it needs to take an effect very rapidly, as the 2014 league champions were a sad rabble in the first half.
When the Saints’ captain and England skipper Dylan Hartley was easily brushed off by Care for the scrum-half to score at the posts with 30 minutes played, it brought up a remarkably simple and quickfire bonus point for Quins.
The fireworks were out at Twickenham (Getty)
But this was nothing new for Northampton, as they have been carved open in embarrassing fashion several times in recent months, including by Saracens and Ospreys at Franklin’s Gardens in the European Cup.
Those losses contributed to the sacking of Jim Mallnder as director of rugby a couple of weeks ago, and while a permanent replacement is sought, the 71-year-old Gaffney has a huge job on his hands restoring confidence, morale and a positive attitude.
The arrival of Springbok flanker Heinrich Brussow, expected for some time in January, may help.
“We have got to stick together, that’s all we can do,” said interim head coach Alan Dickens. “If we get a win I’m sure we’ll kick on.”
But this was a shocking performance to set in front of the Premiership’s first-ever live match broadcast in terrestrial television, and Northampton are winless in the league and Europe since they defeated Harlequins at the end of September.
Quins were perfectly happy to grab a golden chance to return to winning ways after they had…