Saturday, 12th October 2019 @ 15:00
Saracens claimed the Premiership Rugby Cup Derby Day title after we fell to a 28-21 defeat at Allianz Park.
Despite the loss, Harlequins proceed to set up a semi-final at Exeter Chiefs after their strong three-game winning start to the competition.
It was a tough opening 40 minutes for Quins, conceding three tries against the league and European champions.
Harlequins, however, opened the scoring through Marcus Smith slotting a penalty through the posts after just four minutes of action.
Three minutes later, the home side took the lead with Rotimi Segun capitalising on a skewed kick from Martin Landajo. Sarries missed the conversion and held a 5-3 lead.
Despite the tricky wet conditions, Quins showed real hunger and determination throughout the first half in what proved to be a heated and physical derby day fixture between the two clubs.
But on 15 minutes, it was Saracens that crossed the line again. A commendable effort from Tom Lawday to intercept the ball didn’t quite come off and eventually Sarries scrum half Ben Spencer touched down under the posts. Spencer converted his own try to give the home team a 12-3 lead. Spencer extended that lead again from the boot with a 23rd minute penalty to take it to 15-3.
Moments later Marcus Smith produced the tackle of the game in a magnificent try saving moment after Sarries broke through and looked set for the line. This tackle resulted in a turnover of possession and strong attacking set for Quins who were pushing hard to cross the white line.
10 minutes before the break, Quins got their try after quick thinking from Martin Landajo, tapping from the penalty and finding the gap before ultimately offloading to Mike Brown to cross the line. After a conversion from the dependable Marcus Smith, Quins closed the gap to only five points, 15-10.
But Saracens were able to extend their lead after Ben Spencer crossed the line again giving our North London rivals a 22-13 lead at half time, following a 40th minute penalty from Marcus Smith.
The second half saw Luke Northmore make his Club debut, replacing Francis Saili at 12, and Samoan hooker Elia Elia returned from injury to make his first appearance of the 2019/20 campaign.
The first points of the second half arrived after 53 minutes, with Marcus Smith slotting over another penalty, narrowing the gap to 22-16.
Sarries looked set to score on the 59th minute, but the ball went out of metres short of the line as the game entered a tense final quarter.
Gustard and his team made a trio of substitutions, bringing on Mark Lambert and Simon Kerrod at prop with Alex Dombrandt replacing Chris Robshaw, before Niall Saunders returned from injury at scrum half.
A 64th minute penalty to the home side saw Ben Spencer extend the lead to 25-16, with Spencer adding another three points with only eight minutes remaining, taking the score to 28-16.
On the 76th minute, Gabriel Ibitoye stretched his way over the line in the corner, closing the gap to 28-21 and an exciting finale to the match.
Club Captain Chris Robshaw reflected on the match, here.
While a three-game winning run came to an end, Quins can take many positives from the game as they head into their Gallagher Premiership season opener next Saturday against the Exeter Chiefs, who they will also now play in the semi-final of the Premiership Rugby Cup.