Mar 22, 2014
Saracens slay Quins at Wembley
Saracens leapfrogged Northampton Saints to move three points clear at the top of the Aviva Premiership with a resounding 39-17 win against Harlequins.
With a world record crowd of 83,889 in attendance, Saracens faced Harlequins at Wembley Stadium for the third time since the club began playing at the iconic venue.
In the opening exchanges both sides looked to play wide, expansive rugby on the famous Wembley pitch, with outside halves Owen Farrell and Nick Evans both looking to stretch the play.
The game was stopped after a very poor challenge by Harlequins back-rower Maurie Fa’asavalu forced winger David Strettle off the pitch. The Samoan international back-rower did not miss when he lined up a swinging arm on the ex-Quins flyer, with Strettle having to be stretchered off.
After the games prolonged stoppage the Wembley crowd were treated to some Chris Ashton magic. With Harlequins beginning to look threatening down edges of Saracens defence, Nick Easter attempted palm on Nick Evans pass only for it to be intercepted by the fleet footed winger who raced 70+ metres to score with his trademark Ash Splash celebration. Farrell made no mistake with the conversion.
Both fly-half’s traded penalties, first Nick Evans slotted over his sides first points of the afternoon with a routine kick after the Saracens scrum was penalised in front of their own posts, then minutes later Owen Farrell kicked a 45 metre effort to re-establish his sided seven point advantage .
Saracens were beginning to cross the Harlequins gain-line with startling regularity, and when George Kruis out powered opposite number Nick Kennedy to race away to score Harlequins Director of Rugby Conor O’Shea must have feared the worst.
O’Shea’s fears would have been temporarily allayed when Karl Dickson dummied his opposite number Richard Wigglesworth to scamper away to score.
As the half wore on Farrell kicked another penalty and then just before the half-time whistle, he scored his sides third try of the afternoon. The England fly-half will have to thank his opposite number Nick Evans for his generosity, as the former All Black pivot delivered a suicidal pass on his own line. Farrell intercepted and scored right before half-time, converting his own try.
If Harlequins needed an immediate response they duly delivered after they scored just minutes into the second half. With Sarries captain Steve Borthwick yellow carded for taking the man out in the line out, Sam Smith powered over to score moments later. Nick Evans nailed the conversion from the right hand touchline.
With the numerical advantage Harlequins looked to spread the ball at every given opportunity, with full-back Ollie Lindsey-Hauge a constant menace – but the reappearance of Steve Borthwick from Rugby’s equivalent of the naughty step seemed to galvanise Saracens who would cross for their fourth try of the afternoon.
Schalk Brits, enjoying yet another stellar performance at Wembley Stadium combined with lock forward George Kruis at a lineout 40 meters from the Harlequins line – after finding Kruis in the lineout, the England Saxon lock tipped the ball back to Brits who danced his way up the left hand touch line. After being stopped by some desperate Harlequins cover defence to feed Jacques Burger who barrelled his way over to score.
Both sides continued to plug away at each other as the game wore on as Saracens saw out the game to record a well-earned victory, with Argentine centre Marcelo Bosch scoring right at the death to round off a comprehensive victory.