MATCH REPORT | Harlequins 22-29 Saracens Men
Saracens Men completed a dramatic second-half comeback to secure a 29-22 victory over Harlequins at the Twickenham Stoop.
Mark McCall’s men trailed 19-9 at half-time and got level thanks to Alex Lozowski’s boot in the final 10 minutes, before a brilliant try from Jackson Wray secured a memorable win.
It was Quins that started brightly, and they opened the scoring with just four minutes on the clock. A big carry from Andre Esterhuizen took them up towards the line, and from the next phase Hugh Tizard carried over from 10 metres out. The conversion went wide, but the hosts had a 5-0 advantage.
The response was immediate from Sarries as a penalty straight from the restart was kicked through the posts from Alex Lozowski as the Men in Black got themselves on the scoreboard.
As we approached the 15 minute mark the visitors were enjoying much more possession, and they were rewarded with another penalty from Lozowski which put them in to the lead. A Quins clearance saw them go offside, and then the fly-half made no mistake from 25 meters out as he put his side 6-5 ahead.
In a topsy-turvy opening Quins then scored out of nowhere to regain the lead. A looping pass found Tom Lawday on the wing, and he then passed inside to Cadan Murley who stepped past the final defender to score in the corner. Tommy Allan’s touchline conversion gave them a 12-6 advantage.
The hosts had the bit between their teeth and Sarries had to rely on their stern defence to stay unscathed in the next attack, with Ivan van Zyl spotting a kick and scrambling back amongst a pacy Quins chase.
A kicking battle between the two full-backs then followed, and it was the visitors who would come out on top as Tom Woolstencroft got over the ball to earn his side a penalty in the Quins 22 which allowed Lozowski to kick his third penalty of the afternoon.
Quins then crossed for their third with five minutes remaining in the first half as they extended their advantage. Lawday was again put through a gap and charged through the defence, drawing in the final man and releasing Tyrone Green who was never going to be caught. Will Edwards’ conversion meant Sarries trailed by 10 points.
Dino Lamb was then sent to the sin-bin for an illegal clearout at the breakdown and Sarries had a golden chance to capitalise in the final play of the half as Nick Tompkins broke and allowed Alex Lewington to charge at the defence, but he was brought down just short and it was Quins who went in at half-time with a 19-9 lead.
Sarries needed a big start to the second half and that is exactly what they got, as Dom Morris coasted over for a try just 90 seconds after the restart.
Already the intensity was a huge contrast to the one seen in the first half, and as Vincent Koch and Tom Woolstencroft both made yards there was an overlap on the right wing with Morris able to use his pace and score. Lozowski’s brilliant touchline conversion cut the deficit to just three points.
There was plenty of niggle between the two local rivals and at times it threatened to boil over around the hour mark. Quins had a spell in the Sarries 22 and the defence was solid phase after phase, but eventually Danny Care dropped back in to the pocket and his drop goal took their lead to 22-16.
Will Edwards then stuck the post with a penalty for the hosts who were looking to get out of scoring range, but much to the relief of the travelling supporters Sarries escaped.
Crucially, they started to edge their back in to the match and a brilliant box kick from Aled Davies brought a penalty, which Lozowski kicked to make it 22-19 with 15 minutes left.
Jackson Wray then earned his side another penalty as he was first to the breakdown, and Lozowski had the chance to bring Sarries level with a long-range kick which he succeeded with in mightily impressive style.
Davies, who was having a fine game since coming on then took his side in to Quins territory with a sensational 50:22, and it had the desired effect as it led to the winning try.
The comeback was complete as Lewington flew through the defence, and passed out wide to Jackson Wray who dived over in the corner. The touchline conversion meant Sarries had a seven point lead with just three minutes left.
They were forced to defend in the dying seconds as the hosts looked to salvage a draw, but once again the reliable defence stopped the attack and the ball was smashed in to the stands to confirm a heroic victory.