NEC Harlequins crashed to their fifth successive Zurich Premiership defeat in a row, losing to London rivals Saracens by 39-25 at Vicarage Road. The hosts scored four tries in the first half to secure a bonus point and two further scores in the second half gave Saracens a comprehensive victory. Paul Burke scored 20 points for Quins and Will Greenwood scored a late try that was of little consolation for the visitors, who are still without an away win in the Premiership this season.
For the third game in a row Quins conceded a try in the opening stages of the match. A Paul Burke up and under went loose, which resulted in Gerald Arasa sending Tim Horan clear in a race to the line. The centre just had the pace to beat both Matthew Powell and Dan Luger and dive over to score in the right hand corner. Jannie de Beer failed to convert from the touchline but Saracens led 5-0 with just a minute played. A drop goal and penalty from Burke put Quins ahead after six minutes but the lead was short lived.
With 11 minutes on the clock, de Beer kicked a penalty to put Saracens back in front, with Quins adjudged offside in midfield. With a quarter of the match played, Saracens full back Adryan Winnan put up a high ball from just inside the Quins half. Three defenders failed to gather possession and Winnan dived on the loose ball to score. De Beer converted and Saracens led 15-6. Burke cut the deficit to six points six minutes later with his second penalty.
From the restart, the home side registered their third try of the afternoon. A de Beer up and under was not dealt with by the Quins defence and Tony Roques had the simple task of gathering the ball and strolling over the line unopposed. De Beer converted to give Saracens a 13 point advantage. With five minutes left to play before the interval, Saracens secured their bonus point when hooker Robbie Russell forced his way over from close range. De Beer converted but Burke kept Quins hopes alive with a penalty right on the stroke of half-time, making the score 27-12 at the halfway stage.
Quins made a strong start to the second half and two penalties from Burke made the score 27-18 after 51 minutes. Five minutes later and Saracens scored the match winning try. England scrum half Kyran Bracken made a break and chipped over Ryan O'Neill. He then beat Tu Tamarua in the race to the line and touchdown to score under the posts. De Beer added the two extra points to give Saracens a 16 point lead, 34-18.
With five minutes left on the clock, Ben Cole scored in the corner following a powerful catch and drive from the pack from a lineout close to the line. With de Beer off the field injured, Kevin Sorrell took over the kicking duties but failed to convert from wide out. With the game approaching injury time, Greenwood intercepted a pass from Sorrell as Saracens tried to run the ball from deep. The England centre had a simple run-in unopposed, which Burke converted to complete the scoring in the match. Final score 39-25.
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.