Harlequins swept aside all before them at Franklin’s Gardens in Group C of the Singha Premiership Rugby 7s Series on Friday night, but Howard Packman stole the show by sending hosts Northampton Saints through to the Ricoh Arena final as runners-up.
With Sam Aspland-Robinson and England 7s player Cam Cowell leading from the front, Harlequins secured bonus points in all three of their games – including a 42-15 win over Premiership Rugby champions Saracens to condemn them to bottom spot on the night.
But in a straight shoot-out for the all-important runners-up position, 2013 and 2014 champions Gloucester Rugby were pipped by the hosts as Packman’s brilliant four tries saw them book their place in Coventry on August 7.
Saints, cheered on by a vocal home ground, were beaten 29-19 by Harlequins in their opening game but bounced back from that disappointment to record a 24-17 win over Saracens.
Earlier, Gloucester had taken the first win of the evening as a late Mat Protheroe try gave the Cherry & Whites a 26-19 win over Sarries, who earned a losing bonus point in a tightly-fought contest.
But they too were out-classed by Harlequins, with Cowell scoring twice in a 31-0 victory for the south-west Londoners before James Lang grabbed a hat-trick to down Saracens in the penultimate game of the night.
That result meant it would be winner-take-all between Northampton and Gloucester, and while the Cherry & Whites shot out of the blocks through Elliot Creed and Harry Randall, they were pegged back by Howard Packman’s sensational hat-trick.
Creed scored once more but was sin-binned to set-up a grandstand finish, and Packman immediately raced through for his fourth before Alex Rayment delivered the coup de grace.
The results see Harlequins take on final hosts Wasps in their quarter-final, while Saints will face Group B winners Exeter Chiefs first up at the Ricoh Arena.
Gloucester Rugby 26 (Protheroe, Halaifonua, Randall, Thomas)
Saracens 19 (Morris, Crossdale, Earl)
Harlequins 29 (Aspland-Robinson, Lang, Ibitoye, Hirskyj-Douglas, Mikalcius)
Northampton Saints 19 (Emery, Packman, Ludlam)
Gloucester Rugby 10 (Hudson, Protheroe)
Harlequins 31 (Mikalcius 2, Cowell 2, Lang)
Northampton Saints 24 (Collins 2, Grayson, Olver)
Saracens 17 (Haylor, Earl, Sirker )
Harlequins 42 (Lang 3, Aspland-Robinson, Cheeseman, Nairn)
Saracens 15 (Forster, Gilksten, Sirker)
Gloucester Rugby 17 (Creed 2, Randall)
Northampton Saints 27 (Packman 4, Rayment)
Quarter Final 1 – Cardiff Blues v Group D Runner-up
Quarter Final 2 – Exeter Chiefs v Northampton Saints
Quarter Final 3 – Harlequins v Wasps
Quarter Final 4 – Group D Winner v Ospreys