Marcus Smith paid tribute to a monumental effort by Harlequins’ forwards after the 37-19 victory over Northampton Saints which lifted them to third in the Premiership table.

Smith’s 15-point individual haul took him past 150 for the season but the gifted fly-half was keen to share the acclaim with the pack, who stood up to everything Saints threw at them – even after the hosts went down to 13 men in the second half.

Quins held firm despite Jack Kenningham and Alex Dombrandt each being sin-binned within the space of three minutes and Brett Herron’s late score sealed a bonus point to put the icing on the cake.

“You saw a glimpse of our leadership, of our group growing,” Smith said. “We have a lot of young guys coming through and the way we held our line (with 13 men) showed a lot of character.

“It showed how desperate we are to play for this brilliant club. We saw glimpses here and a few weeks ago at Gloucester when Andre (Esterhuizen) got red carded early doors. Hopefully in the big games to come we can show that resolve and mental strength.

“The way our forwards dominate the opposition makes it a lot easier for me and Danny (Care) to play the ball.”

Sunday’s clash at the Stoop got off to an explosive start as both sides dotted down twice inside the opening 15 minutes, Tom Collins and Tom James cancelling out efforts by Tyrone Green and Stephan Lewies.

Two Smith penalties and Mike Brown’s try put Quins in the driving seat at the break but Ollie Sleightholme reduced the deficit.

Smith’s flawless afternoon with the boot continued with a third penalty to open up breathing space and his replacement Herron sealed the deal to set the Londoners up for a crunch clash at Exeter Chiefs next week.

“They (Saints) targeted the breakdown pretty hard, which is a compliment to us as nine and 10 and also something to look forward to for the challenge next week,” he said.

“Our outside backs look dangerous when they get the ball so we need to get it to them. We’re looking to kick on again next week at Sandy Park.”