Saracens 34-26 Harlequins: The hosts win the day to cement their place at the top of the Premiership
Saracens 36-24 Harlequins: Owen Farrell wins No10’s fight but at what cost after injury? If the hosts win the day at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, they will cement their place at the top of the Premier League
- Marcus Smith tried to inspire Quin’s comeback but couldn’t prevail against the hosts
- Cadan Murley kept his team on the hunt with an impressive second-half display
- Owen Farrell shrugged off Six Nations sadness but walked away with a foot injury
Owen Farrell experienced mixed feelings at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium as he shrugged off his Six Nations desperation to help Sarries win a play-off home semi-final.
The fly-half won his personal duel with Marcus Smith and also shattered Quin’s own top four chances, but he also limped off the field in agony after injuring his left foot.
It’s a blow that could jeopardize his hopes of qualifying for next Sunday’s big round of 16 Champions Cup against Ospreys.
Saracens boss Mark McCall said: “I think he just aggravated that ankle that he aggravated with England. I don’t know how next week will be, we’ll have to wait and see.’
Farrell, who scored 11 points, was a man on a mission against England team-mate Smith and had to express disappointment that Steve Borthwick’s men had lost three of their five Six Nations games.
Marcus Smith hobbled away early during the Saracens’ match-winning clash against Quins
Marcus Smith inspired a comeback from his side but failed to close the gap
Sarries took another big step towards a sixth national title with a bonus point win over Quins in front of 55,000 spectators who watched the teams share nine tries.
And Sarries No 8 Billy Vunipola said: “We got ourselves a home semi-final now and hopefully we can do something special this year. We were a bit scratchy at times. We need to fix that if we want to continue and do well.”
England hooker Jamie George added: “We love playing at StoneX so it turned out to be ideal for the play-offs. That was a big win for us, but there is still work to be done domestically and in Europe in the last few weeks.”
Sarries built up a 22-7 lead at half-time, although England No. 8 Alex Dombrandt fell after just 90 seconds in an attempt to give Quins a flying start.
Ben Earl sent Alex Lozowski on his way and Farrell converted to equalize. He repeated the act within minutes, with Lozowski making the crucial breakout and Nick Tompkins completing a fine move.
Danny Care was embroiled in a controversial moment in which the England veteran appeared lucky to escape punishment in a similar incident that saw Freddie Steward sacked for England v Ireland. His awkward shot at Ivan van Zyl, who had been chasing his own chip-through, left the South African scrum half-dazed after banging his head on his rival Quins. Referee Luke Pearce ruled it was just a fluke as Care tried to avoid contact.
Moments later, however, Care was sent into the sin trap for deliberately knocking the ball out of van Zyl’s hands in a ruck. Farrell kicked the penalty. Curiously, it was only afterwards that Van Zyl was called away to undergo an HIA for the earlier incident, which he passed.
Referee Pearce was then on the receiving end of an accidental hit by South African dog Irne Herbst, causing the crowd to cheer with amusement.
Andy Christie’s try just before the break extended Sarries’ lead, but Quins started the second half at a similar pace to spark hopes of a comeback. Farrell held Dombrandt over his own line but there was no stopping wing, Cadan Murley stormed past.
Billy Vunipola (in possession) was named man of the match on Saturday afternoon
Christie delivered a great pass inside Sean Maitland to cross for Sarries’ fourth try before Murley answered again and won a battle of strength with Max Malins to land the ball in the left corner.
But Sarries still wasn’t done and Maro Itoje stormed over for the fifth time. Farrell converted but then limped away after injuring his ankle trying to tackle Sam Riley.
Still, Quins didn’t give up and after Christie was shown a yellow card for foul play nine minutes before Joe Marchant scored Care’s crossfield kick on goal.
Quins boss Tabai Matson said: “We wanted to be physical and had to do our best, but we weren’t. We have games in hand and will fight to the last game.’
https://www.dailymail.co.uk/sport/rugbyunion/article-11902157/Saracens-34-26-Harlequins-Host-win-day-cement-hold-Premiership.html?ns_mchannel=rss&ns_campaign=1490&ito=1490 Saracens 34-26 Harlequins: The hosts win the day to cement their place at the top of the Premiership