Paul Gustard hailed his Harlequins charges for providing the perfect response to opening-day defeat by putting six tries past Northampton Saints en route to their first win at Franklin’s Gardens for eight years. 

Quins were humbled 33-3 at home to defending champions Exeter Chiefs in Round 1, but they got their season firmly up-and-running against Chris Boyd’s men, who subsequently fell to their eighth consecutive home defeat. 

Tries from Danny Care and Nathan Earle put Harlequins in control at the break 23-17 before Mike Brown, Alex Dombrandt, Scott Steele and Marcus Smith added to Saints’ punishment in the second half. 

The hosts did go over four times themselves to rescue a losing bonus point, Lewis Ludlam (2), Nick Isiekwe and Rory Hutchinson all crossing the whitewash. 

And while head coach Gustard was somewhat disappointed with how his team let their opponents in on each of those occasions, the 44-year-old was overall delighted with the emphatic 49-29 winning scoreline. 

“There are some things we still want to work on - we’re a bit frustrated that we allowed them to score two soft tries towards the end," Gustard said.

“But these things happen and scoring 49 points at Franklin’s Gardens doesn’t happen very often. We’re all really happy and it’s a good day to be a Harlequin. 

“We’ve been training really well over the last four or five weeks and I think since rugby restarted we’ve been a lot more competitive as a team. 

“I think we’re growing a lot and a performance like this should be what we expect from the team going forward.”

While Smith was central to the victory by setting up two tries and scoring Quins’ sixth, second-rower Hugh Tizard was picked as Player of the Match by his teammates after impressing on his first Premiership start in place of the injured Stephan Lewies. 

Having returned to winning ways in perfect fashion, Harlequins will look to replicate such ruthless form on their next outing away to Gloucester, as they continue their bid to secure a 2020/21 play-off place. 

Tizard, 20, added: “I’m delighted to have made my Premiership debut. It was great to be out there with all the lads, they’ve all been really supportive this week. 

“The squad was announced on Tuesday and I was meant to be on the bench. Stephan unfortunately got a knock, but he’s been a really good mentor and he’s been helping me out with line-out calls and the physicality side of things. 

“It was late notice that I was going to get the start but I really enjoyed it and we got the five points as well, which is crucial.”