England scrum half Danny Care believes Mike Brown strengthened his grip on his England jersey after outshining Ben Foden in Saturday’s Aviva Premiership win over Northampton Saints at Franklin’s Gardens, writes Sam Wakefield.
Nick Evans scored all of Quins' points from the kicking tee as the game was dominated by the boot due to the slippery conditions – the New Zealander coming out on top in the 18-9 victory.
And 25-year-old Care insisted Quins had thrown down their impressive title credentials for all of the Aviva Premiership to see, with Brown the stand-out performer at full-back.
"That is a massive win for us. We wanted to come and lay down a statement to the rest of the Premiership," he said.
"We are champions and we want to be the champions again so this was a massive win for us.
"On a day like it was, nobody wants to play rugby in it, but you have to play the conditions and I thought we played it better than they did especially Mike Brown at the back who was outstanding.
"We thought we would put the pressure on them rather than have it on us and I thought we did that well.
"We just came to do a job, we worked hard in the week. We had a poor session Tuesday, but we regrouped and came through and worked really well.
"We are just delighted to have got a nice early Christmas present for ourselves."
The game looked to be heading in Saints' favour when James Johnston was sent to the sin-bin and they quickly evened things up to 6-6 midway through the second half.
But by the time Johnston returned to the field the score was 12-6 and the home team were unable to drag themselves back into the game.
And Saints coach Jim Mallinder admitted he was devastated to be denied a losing bonus point as Evans slotted a penalty with the last kick of the game.
"It was gutting because after 60 minutes we were six all with the momentum going our way but we made some mistakes and it was very disappointing - to concede like we did was a poor penalty," he said.
"It was a close game and I think we'll probably look back on the 60-minute mark where they were down to 14 and we should have taken more of an advantage of the numbers.
"But we didn't and they scored a penalty in that time to make it 9-6 and from then the pressure just mounted.
"I think it was always going to be a territorial game because of the conditions but generally in the first half it was fairly even but in the second half certainly their half-backs played very well.
"I don't think we'll use [last week's win over Ulster] as an excuse. We had a good week build up and both sides looked tired. It was tough conditions, a tight game and they handled themselves better."
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