MATCH REPORT | Harlequins 27-30 Saracens Men
Saracens Men completed an incredible comeback to start the season with a heroic 30-27 bonus point win over Harlequins at the Twickenham Stoop.
Mark McCall’s men trailed 24-12 at the break but responded in style to rescue a dramatic victory which gets the season off to the perfect start.
It was Quins who made the perfect start as they opened the scoring with just two minutes played. Tommy Allan’s huge penalty gave them a lineout right on the Sarries line, and then after going through the phases they spun it from right to left, finding Cadan Murley in acres of space to dive over in the corner. Allan then converted to give the hosts a 7-0 lead.
Luke Northmore then thought he had scored just two minutes later after Murley intercepted a pass, but fortunately for the visitors the referee blew his whistle for an earlier knock on.
They didn’t have to wait much longer though, as just as Sarries were making yards in the 22 a loose pass found its way to Alex Dombrandt who released Murley from 80 metres to race away. Allan again converted as their lead grew to 14 points.
That try was quickly followed by a long-range three-pointer from Allan, who gave Quins a 17-0 lead with just 17 minutes on the clock.
Sarries then burst in to life as we entered the second quarter and opened their account with a brilliant team try. A number of phases, all with quick ball opened up space out wide to allow Nick Tompkins and Elliot Daly to combine, with Daly dotting down in the left corner.
The intensity was then significantly raised by the North Londoners and a majestic grubber from Tompkins put Max Malins in to space, but the Quins defence managed to haul him down and stop the attack.
Try number two came straight after through in sensational style. Ben Earl went crashing over the Quins defence and then some delightful hands from Alex Lozowski allowed Max Malins to dive over the whitewash as his side got themselves right back in the match. Owen Farrell’s excellent touchline conversion cut the deficit to just five points.
Quins then had a great chance to wrestle back the momentum with a five metre lineout, but some outstanding maul defence held them up and got Sarries a much-needed turnover.
The hosts did manage to get their third try before the break though, as Sarries were caught when playing out of their 22 and another interception allowed Joe Marchant to glide over to the elation of the home crowd. Allan’s third conversion ensured they would have a 24-12 lead at the break.
Sarries got just what was needed in the early stages of the second half as another counter attack try ended with Malins’ second to get them right back in the game.
Alex Lewington broke down the left wing and his kick back in-field created all sorts of problems for the Quins defence who fumbled the ball and then Sarries pounced as Lozowski went close before a wide pass to Malins who could stroll over the line. The conversion went just wide, but the visitors now trailed by just seven points.
It nearly got even better as Malins sliced through a gap and looked to find Lewington on the wing, but unfortunately the ball didn’t go to hand and the chance disappeared.
Another opportunity followed after a string of penalties took Sarries right up to the line, but just when it looked like Mako Vunipola would dot down a Quins hand got over it and earned a penalty.
Maro Itoje’s exceptional turnover then gave Farrell an easy penalty attempt from straight in front, which sailed straight through the uprights as the score read 24-20 with 20 minutes left.
Sarries did eventually get in front with 15 minutes to go as their route back looked to have been completed. Farrell’s delightful pass to Vunipola took them to within one metre of the line, and then it was spun straight to Tompkins who glided over under the posts for the bonus point score. The conversion from the skipper meant his side were now 27-24 ahead.
Quins got themselves level just minutes later though as Allan’s second penalty of the day set up a grandstand finish in West London.
With 10 minutes left Sarries were awarded a penalty on half way, and Daly’s enormous left boot saw his attempt comfortably clear the posts to give his team a 30-27 lead in the closing stages.
The hosts then had a huge chance when they kicked a penalty to within five metres of the line, but in a massive moment they were penalised at the maul and gave Sarries the chance to clear their lines.
Quins refused to lie down and kept pushing, but were met by a resolute defence who hammered the ball out to confirm a memorable victory.