Sunday, 26th January 2020 @ 00:00
Harlequins secured a superb bonus point victory in the London derby, hammering Saracens 41-14 at The Stoop.
Quins took an early lead, originating from a dominant turnover deep in the Quins half, which led to a lineout around the half way line. The set piece saw Dombrandt take the ball from the back of the lineout and a few exchanges between the number eight and Danny Care set the scrum half on his way to find the line. Smith added the two and Quins held a 7-0 lead after only three minutes.
Just after the 10-minute mark, another slick Quins move saw Cadan Murley cross the line in the far corner. In the build-up, Marcus Smith’s cross-field kick found the hands of Elia Elia who kept the ball in play to offload to James Chisholm before setting off Murley, giving Quins an early 12-0 lead.
With less than 20 minutes left of the first half, Murley crossed the line again following a cheeky sidestep from Marcus Smith to change direction and set the Quins attack off. Smith fed the ball into big centre Paul Lasike who spun the ball back outside to Cadan who had the legs to slot down near the posts. Smith’s kick was successful, with Quins now holding a commanding 19-0 lead.
Saracens responded after countless phases of rugby, eventually with Alex Lozowski driving his way over the line under the posts for the visitors’ first of the day. Manu Vunipola converted, closing the gap to 19-7 on the half an hour mark.
The score remained unchanged into the break, and despite the rain in the early stages Quins came out looking for that crucial bonus point try. Only five minutes into the second half, Quins got exactly that after a punt from Marcus Smith sent the ball through the Saracens back line and a jubilant Gabs Ibitoye slid his way through to touch down, giving Quins a 24-7 advantage.
Almost immediately after Ibitoye’s try, Quins claimed their fifth try of the match, having won the lineout deep in the Saracens half. Elia Elia picked up the loose ball from the back of the driving maul and offloaded to Paul Lasike to add the five. Marcus Smith extended Quins’ lead to 31-7 after 48 minutes.
However, the visitors battled back to cross the line with 25 minutes remaining as late replacement to the starting XV Dom Morris was handed the ball in space out wide. Vunipola added the extras to bring the score to 31-14.
Marcus Smith did brilliantly to set Quins off for another promising attack after his punt and the resulting bounce on the wet surface gained ground for the home side, before Smith brought down his opposing fly half and ripped the ball from Vunipola. Referee Luke Pearce subsequently awarded Quins a penalty, giving Marcus Smith the chance to extend the lead. Smith added the extra three and Quins held a 20-point lead with 20 minutes left on the clock.
And Quins’ day wasn’t over, continuing to pile on the pressure before Martin Landajo picked up a cheeky intercept as Saracens tried to keep the ball in play, with the Argentinian scrum half diving over moments after replacing Danny Care. Marcus Smith added to two to give Harlequins a memorable 41-14 derby day victory.
Harlequins head to Exeter next Sunday for the Premiership Rugby Cup semi-final at Sandy Park before returning to The Stoop on Saturday 15 February to host London Irish, as part of the Club’s Pride themed fixture. Tickets are available at tickets.quins.co.uk