Saracens sealed the points in this London derby thanks to the boot of stand-in goal kicker Kevin Sorrell, who kicked seven penalties from seven attempts. In what was a fairly uneventful match, a try from ex-Quin Dan Luger turned out to be the decisive score ten minutes before the break. The defeat means that NEC Harlequins have still not won in the Premiership away from the Stoop this season.
No sooner had the game kicked off and Quins were three points behind. Tani Fuga was penalised for not releasing, a constant feature from both sides throughout the 80 minutes, and Sorrell duly slotted his first penalty to give Saracens the lead after only 30 seconds of play. The home side came out looking to make a fast start, but only some strong defence prevented the visitors from going further behind.
Quins got themselves into the game and came close to registering the first try of the game. They turned over possession inside the Saracens twenty-two, following Matthew Powell's chip over the top, and had the overlap out wide. But by overcomplicating matters in midfield, the opportunity was lost and Rory Jenkins was eventually held up short of the line. Quins did level the scores after 12 minutes when Niall Woods converted a penalty, when Saracens were adjudged offside.
With Tim Horan at fly half, Saracens always looked dangerous on the attack. Horan started a move that gave Luger space down the left wing. But the winger didn't have the angle to beat Jamie Williams and the full back marshalled him into touch. Woods then gave Quins the lead after 20 minutes when Saracens were penalised for coming in at the wrong side. But the lead would last for only four minutes as Sorrell levelled the scores after Quins were found guilty of pulling down a rolling maul. The centre then restored the hosts lead with his third penalty after 28 minutes.
Three minutes later and Luger struck with the only try of the game. The England wing came into the midfield, took an inside pass from Horan and broke through the tackle of Garrick Morgan. This time he had the angle and pace to beat Williams in a sprint to the corner. If conceding a try wasn't bad enough, Williams went crashing into the advertising boards, in attempting to stop Luger, and suffered an horrific leg injury. Sorrell missed the touchline conversion but Saracens had opened up an eight point lead, 14-8.
Woods and Sorrell then traded penalties in the space of 60 seconds to advance the scoreline to 17-9. Just before half-time, Quins came perilously close to scoring. A quick tap penalty from Powell deep inside his own twenty-two caught Saracens on the back foot. Woods kicked deep into the opposition's territory where Saracens struggled to clear their lines. Quins secured possession and with the home sides defence in disarray, gaps appeared in the midfield. Nick Burrows cut back inside but managed to trip on his way to the line. Saracens defence recovered and defused the situation to maintain their lead at the break by eight points.
12 minutes after the re-start and Saracens stretched their lead even further. Sorrell made no mistake with his fifth penalty of the day when Quins were penalised for coming in at the side of the maul deep inside their own twenty-two. Woods cut the deficit back to eight points three minutes later when Saracens were caught offside.
A promising break from Will Greenwood took Quins deep into Saracens territory. With the support being held back illegally, Woods made it 20-15 with just over a quarter of the game left to play. With ten minutes remaining, Quins got right back into the game. After stealing possession from a Saracens scrum, a promising situation was halted when the home side were deemed to be offiside. Woods kicked his sixth penalty making the score 20-18.
But Saracens were not prepared to let this game go. Sorrell restored a five point lead after a powerful rolling maul from their forwards was pulled down illegally by the Quins pack. Then with just five minutes to go, Sorrell crucially gave Saracens an eight point lead with his seventh and final penalty, after Quins were penalised for being offside.
Woods had the opportunity to reduce the deficit back to five points and to give Quins a chance to stage one final onslaught. But much to the crowds surprise, his penalty attempt from in front of the posts drifted wide of the land hand upright. The visitors rallied for one final score, but their London rivals refused to let them in. The final whistle blew and Quins had suffered yet another defeat in the Premiership. The margin of defeat was also just enough to mean that they didn't earn a bonus point for their afternoon's work.
During week commencing 22nd April Harlequins will launch an innovative, new Membership Scheme which will replace the existing Season Ticket Holder Programme. Further details of the scheme will be announced in due course.