Harlequins suffer defeat at the hands of Saracens

Friday, 12th September 2014 @ 23:45

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Harlequins succumbed to a heavy 0-39 defeat at the hands of Saracens in Round 2 of the Aviva Premiership.

It was difficult viewing for the Twickenham Stoop crowd who were in fine voice throughout the fixture.

The hosts had the lion’s share of possession throughout the match, but were unable to capitalise on these favourable stats. Despite being urged on by the 13,000 strong support, it was clear that Harlequins were not their usual self.

This form was exacerbated when an early injury to Matt Hopper forced Charlie Walker into the centres. When Walker then suffered an injury in the second half, back-row Jack Clifford assumed the outside centre role for the final half hour of the match. Nick Evans also took a knock in the first half forcing Ben Botica into the fray.

By contrast, Saracens were ruthless; any visit to the Harlequins 22 resulted in points, with Charlie Hodgson recording 22 of his side’s points. 

The shining light for the home side was two excellent try saving tackles from Mike Brown in both halves.

The first occurred when he dislodged the ball from Duncan Taylor with the try line gaping and the second followed a Brad Barritt charge down in the Harlequins 22.

Harlequins began the fixture well, Kyle Sinckler was physical in defence while darting runs from Marland Yarde and Walker provided an early threat in attack.

Harlequins’ discipline allowed Hodgson to give his side a 0-6 lead on 20 minutes, but it could have been much worse had it not been for the defensive efforts of Brown following a Harlequins style attack down the right wing from the visitors.

Saracens’ lead was extended when Hodgson scored a fortuitous try in the 25th minute. The visitors’ rush defence allowed the fly-half to charge down Evans’ clearing kick and after gathering possession, ran in unopposed and converted his own score for a 0-13 lead.

As the half hour approached, Harlequins built some promising phases, but a knock-on gifted Saracens possession and Hodgson quickly found himself slotting his third penalty of the night.

With the half closing, Harlequins kicked numerous penalties to within five metres, but despite some promising rolling mauls, the Saracens defence could not be breached and the visitors had a 0-16 lead at the break.

A reignited Harlequins team emerged for the second half, with Botica at the helm, replacing Evans who picked up what appeared to be a shoulder injury midway through the first half.

Hodgson received a yellow card for a deliberate knock-on, but Botica’s penalty attempt was denied by the post.

In Hodgson’s absence, Alex Goode added another penalty for the visitors, before Clifford moved to the unfamiliar role of outside centre.

Hodgson returned to the field after their captain Alastair Hargreaves was shown yellow, and added another penalty for his side.

Brown made his second try saving tackle just after the hour mark when Botica’s clearing kick was charged down by Barritt. Rob Buchanan was shown yellow in the following phases and Hodgson added another penalty.

In the final ten minutes, Chris Ashton scored against the run of play, out running the Harlequins defenders following a hack through from a Harlequins knock-on.

The Saracens forwards scored the third try with five minutes remaining from a powerful rolling maul. Owen Farrell had replaced Hodgson and converted the two tries to complete the 0-39 win.

Harlequins will pick themselves up for next week’s fixture against Wasps and will continue the rollercoaster marathon of the Aviva Premiership season.

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