Sep 24, 2016
Report: Saracens edged out at The Stoop
Saracens suffered their first defeat of the Aviva Premiership season, as they were edged out by Harlequins 17-10 at the Twickenham Stoop, picking up a losing bonus point in the process.
A try from Richard Wigglesworth and a late Ben Spencer penalty pinned back the Quins, who had raced into a 17-0 lead after just twenty minutes of play.
The opening half for Saracens was one to file under ‘burn after reading’. After Quins fly-half Tim Swiel sent over a third minute penalty, left wing Tim Visser intercepted Alex Lozowski’s pass to run under the posts, signalling the main theme of the first forty minutes - frustration for Mark McCall’s side.
The home side need no encouragement about getting up for a game against Saracens at The Stoop, with the South West Londoners always pumped for a visit from their cross-city rivals. Indeed, John Kingston’s side were certainly up for the occasion, tenacious in defence and clinical in attack.
After Jim Hamilton was repeatedly penalised for dragging down a Harlequins maul on Sarries try-line, the home side shifted their point of attack and spread the play shifting the ball to wing Charlie Walker who finished in the right hand corner. Swiel added the extras leaving Sarries trailing 17-0 with only 20 minutes gone.
In fairness, the visitors rallied. Richard Wigglesworth nearly embarrassed his former England teammate Mike Brown as he dotted the ball down after chasing his own kick. Brown, looking to shepherd the ball out, just managed to ground the ball before the Sarries scrumhalf, sparing his blushes.
Sarries looked for the power game in the closing stages of the first half. Repeated scrums on the Quins line were collapsed by the hosts’ pack, but only a stern word to skipper Danny Care was their reprisal as Saracens trudged back into the changing rooms without a point to their names.
The words ringing around the four walls of the cosy away changing rooms at the Twickenham Stoop were “work harder”. The visitors needed a response and with only four minutes of play in the second half, Mike Ellery produced a piece of magic that led to scrumhalf Richard Wigglesworth scoring his side’s only try of the game.
Picking the ball up on a switch on the Quins 40m line, the right winger rounded his opposite man Tim Visser and raced away down the right touchline. Sensing the cover defenders approaching him, he chipped the onrushing Tim Swiel, regathered and under pressure offloaded to Richard Wigglesworth who was in support. Lozowski converted to make the score 17 – 7 to Quins.
Sarries introduced their bench, with hooker Jamie George looking to impress the on-looking Eddie Jones his industry and physicality brought an extra edge to his side in both attack and defence, with his hot on Quins centre Jamie Roberts a particular highlight. George was not alone. Alex Lozowski carried with real vigour and fronted up in defence, and full-back Alex Goode was a constant danger on the counter but the Quins defence was up to the task.
Sarries had a few half-chances though. Lozowski missed two penalty attempts in the second half, his second hitting the post and rebounding to safety. Jackson Wray had a half chance with Chris Wyles outside him down the left wing, but the hard-working Sarries flanker couldn’t get the ball to the USA international.
Ben Spencer added a second half penalty to move Sarries into losing bonus point range, as the north Londoners hunted a final last-gasp score. Alas, their search wouldn’t yield another try as the home-side closed out the game to record their first win at The Stoop this season.
Next up for Mark McCall’s men, a trip to Bristol on Friday evening.
Saracens: 15 Alex Goode; 14 Mike Ellery, 13 Marcelo Bosch (Nick Tompkins 65’), 12 Brad Barritt (c), 11 Chris Wyles; 10 Alex Lozowski, 9 Richard Wigglesworth (Ben Spencer 66’); 1 Mako Vunipola (Richard Barrington 66’), 2 Schalk Brits (Jamie George 41’), 3 Petrus Du Plessis (Juan Figallo 41’); 4 Maro Itoje, 5 Jim Hamilton, 6 Michael Rhodes (Kelly Brown 59’), 7 Jackson Wray, 8 Billy Vunipola
Replacements: 16 Jamie George, 17 Richard Barrington, 18 Juan Figallo, 19 Kelly Brown, 20 Scott Spurling, 21 Ben Spencer, 22 Nick Tompkins, 23 Matt Gallagher
Tries: Richard Wigglesworth
Conversions: Alex Lozowski
Penalties: Alex Lozowski (0/2), Ben Spencer (1/1)
Harlequins: 15 Mike Brown, 14 Charlie Walker, 13 Matt Hopper, 12 Jamie Roberts, 11 Tim Visser; 10 Tim Swiel, 9 Danny Care (c); 1 Joe Marler, 2 Rob Buchanan, 3 Will Collier, 4 George Merrick, 5 James Horwill, 6 Chris Robshaw, 7 Luke Wallace, 8 James Chisholm
Replacements: 16 Joe Gray, 17 Mark Lambert, 18 Kyle Sinkler, 19 Sam Twomey, 20 Dave Ward, 21 Karl Dickson, 22 Ruaridh Jackson, 23 Alofa Alofa.
Tries: Tim Visser, Charlie Walker
Conversions: Tim Swiel (2/2)
Penalties: Tim Swiel (1/2)