Match Reports

Harlequins seen off by clinical Saracens at Wembley

Saturday, 8th April 2017 @ 18:50

Saracens ran in four tries in a 40-19 bonus point win over Harlequins at Wembley Stadium. 

Chris Ashton, Schalk Brits, Michael Rhodes and Alex Goode all crossed for Mark McCall's side while James Horwill went over late for Harlequins.

Going in to the match, John Kingston made one change to the 23 that defeated Newcastle Falcons a fortnight ago as Jack Clifford came in for Dave Ward to fill the openside flanker role.

Clifford, however, was ruled out of the match four minutes in as he went off for a Head Injury Assessment with Ward then replacing him.

At the home of English football, Harlequins struck first in a hotly-contested opening half as Nick Evans made Saracens pay for a number of infringements.

Despite a strong defensive spell when Harlequins turned Saracens over from the scrum, Ashton kept up his scintilating try-scoring form by dotting down in the corner from Goode's poked-through kick.

With Farrell adding the extras, Saracens looked to break away again through the unlikely figure of Vincent Koch. Luckily for Harlequins the tighthead prop fumbled. 

Saracens, however, went over for the second shortly after when from a phase after a broken maul, Brits bundled over.

Following the two tries in seven minutes, Harlequins hit back with two quick penalties - the latter from 40 metres out - and within the last ten minutes of the half the score stood at 14-9.

Ashton could have had his second before the break when he was given space to break through but again the ball fumbled out of his grip.

Kingston's side were to pay six minutes from the interval when they were caught offside. Farrell then extended his team's advantage to eight points when the half-time whistle sounded.

Minutes in to the second half and Farrell would punish Harlequins again with a penalty.

Harlequins enjoyed plenty of possession shortly after and racked up more than 20 phases in one spell only for Saracens' resolute defence to stand firm.

Evans and Farrell then exchanged penalties as Harlequins were once again kept at bay by McCall's men.

At 23-12, Marland Yarde broke wonderfully to play in Joe Marchant but with the ball spilling, Saracens were let off the hook.

Quick and clever hands from the Harlequins backline played in Mike Brown who kicked and chased but the fullback had his path interfered with by Sean Maitlland meaning he couldn't latch on to score. 

Saracens were allowed to build on their strong defence and as the match rolled over into the last ten minutes, the Premiership and European champions crossed over through Rhodes. The back rower broke the line in Harlequins' 22, looked to pop outside, faked and then crashed over.

With Farrell staying perfect with the boot - and would go on to maintain a 100 per cent record throughout the match - daylight increased between the two as the score stood at 33-12.

Harlequins did respond well from the score as Horwill bundled over following some smart hands from replacements Alofa Alofa and Charlie Mulchrone at the back of the maul.

The clinical Saracens weren't to be denied their bonus point however as Goode crossed the whitewash unchallenged with seconds left of the match.

Saracens have now secured their spot in this season's play-offs while Harlequins still occupy the final spot for automatic European Rugby Champions Cup qualification.

Harlequins return to Aviva Premiership action next Friday when they face Exeter Chiefs at The Stoop. Tickets are available here or by calling the Ticket Office on 020 8410 6000.