Match Report | Saracens Men 19-10 Harlequins
Saracens Men made it back-to-back victories in the Gallagher Premiership with a hard-fought 19-10 win over Harlequins at StoneX Stadium.
In atrocious conditions it was always going to be a match for the purists, but the Men in Black managed to grind out the win over their local rivals thanks to tries from Tom Woolstencroft and Sean Maitland as well as nine points from Alex Lozowski’s boot.
Sarries made a fast start and threatened to take an early lead with some neat opening exchanges. Theo McFarland’s strong carry created an overlap for Maitland and Ben Earl on the right wing, but the Quins defence got back in the nick of time to stop a certain try.
They didn’t have to wait much longer though as Woolstencroft scored the opening try with just six minutes on the clock. A huge scrum in the Quins 22 got the hosts a penalty against the head, and then it was kicked to the corner with the hooker at the base of the maul to continue his try-scoring form. The conversion went wide in the swirling wind, but Sarries had their desired early lead.
A golden chance then followed immediately as Dom Morris gathered a loose ball and raced away, he was brought down just short but then when the ball was spun wide it looked inevitable that a try was coming until a knock on allowed the visitors to escape.
Quins then had their first opportunity as Luke Northmore was given an inside pass and used his pace to go right up to the line, but the famous Wolfpack defence stayed firm and shut the door emphatically.
The pressure was building from them, and they were rewarded just before the 20 minute mark as Danny Care crossed for their first try. His trademark snipe at the base of a ruck caught the defence off guard which allowed him to bundle over from just two metres out, and then Tommy Allan’s conversion put the West Londoners 7-5 ahead.
Sarries then hit back off the back of another scrum penalty which was becoming a real weapon for them. The forwards once again had dominance, and then Alex Goode’s perfectly timed pass released Maitland who could glide over in the corner, putting his side 10-7 in front.
Both sides then relied on the boot for the remainder of the first half as conditions continued to cause havoc, and it was Quins who benefited with a penalty just before the break.
Ivan van Zyl’s box kick was caught in the wind and then the hosts were penalised, allowing Allan a straight forward penalty as he levelled the score at 10-10 which is how the teams went down the tunnel for half time.
Sarries started the second half strongly and once again McFarland was at the heart of it. He handed off his opposite number and then released van Zyl down the wing, but his inside pass was knocked on and then Quins cleared.
They did however edge ahead from the following phase, as a penalty allowed Lozowski to dissect the posts, putting the hosts 13-10 ahead with 30 minutes remaining.
Lozowski was on the money again 10 minutes later to extend the lead to six points, with the home side having to rely on his boot as running rugby was becoming increasingly unlikely in the rain.
A half chance followed for Sarries when a dropped Quins ball was hacked forward by Manu Vunipola and Rotimi Segun raced against Louis Lynagh to gather, but the Harlequin managed to win the race and stop the danger.
Quins refused to lie down and had plenty of possession in the Sarries 22, however the line speed from defence almost put the game to bed with just three minutes left.
The ball spat out of the breakdown and Lozowski smashed the ball deep, Alex Lewington chased it hard but again Lynagh was there to save the visitors.
Then another sensational scrum got the North Londoners a penalty which Lozowski judged perfectly as the assistant referees put their flags up to confirm what could prove to be a crucial win come the end of the season.