Harlequins boss Conor O'Shea insisted that it was the blend of youth and experience that had proved the key as a last-gasp Ben Botica try gave his side a win against Northampton Saints in the LV= Cup, writes John Hunter.

Two opportunistic tries in the first half from Sam Smith in addition to a Harry Sloan score in his first start put the defending Aviva Premiership champions 21-9 to the good at the interval.

Cheered on by a vocal home support Northampton came storming back in the second period as tries from Luther Burrell and Tom May in addition to dead eye kicking from Ryan Lamb turned the game on its head.

But just when it looked like Saints had done enough to seal the comeback, Botica barrelled over with the last play of the game to seal a dramatic win and kick off their competition in style.

"We're proud of young lads like Harry Sloan who scored a try and it must be a really proud moment for him to go away from home for the first time and score a try at Franklin's Gardens and it's great for the squad," said O'Shea.

"It's really good for us. We had a lot of young players who did a good job and some older players who gave the side the structure you need, like Mark Lambert. They really stepped up.

"It's a gutting way for them to lose the game,but it's a nice start for us in this tournament.

"As a squad we're delighted with the result. We were being put under ferocious pressure by Northampton but our defence was immense.

"Smithy knows where to position himself. I think he's learnt a lot from Tom Williams in his defensive position and getting into space that if you try to throw it over him he's in the right position to take it."

By contrast Saints boss Jim Mallinder was left to rue his side's defensive lapses in the first period that left them just too much to make up after the break.

"They were stupid really, but even in the first half I thought we played some decent rugby and created quite a lot," he said.

"But we conceded tries too easily there and they are all of our mistakes, so that's why it's so disappointing.

"I said at half-time 'let's just simplify things'. Our scrum was really dominant and we were getting some good ball from the line-out as well, so we just just 'look after the ball and let's take the simple option'.

"It's always important to win and you always want to do that. We're going through a little bit of a down period at the moment and we need to get back to winning ways."

The LV= Cup. Watch the next generation break through. For tickets and info, visit lv.com/rugby.