Harlequins sunk by Saracens at London Stadium

Saturday, 24th March 2018 @ 17:30



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Two first half tries from Liam Williams and Maro Itoje and 14 points from the boot of Alex Lozowski saw Saracens hold off Harlequins - 24-11 - at the London Stadium.

In a start-stop match up, Harlequins trailed 18-6 at the break but got to within seven points of their London counterparts when James Horwill crossed in the second half.

However, Saracens continued to keep the scoreboard ticking over in the second half, despite seeing Max Malins in the bin for ten minutes.

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Earlier, Harlequins arrived at the London Stadium for their first Aviva Premiership match since the win over Bath Rugby at the start of the month. Having played Saracens twice already this season, Harlequins had got the better of Mark McCall's side on both occasions and were looking for their third win in a row over them.

It was the hosts that struck first, just three minutes in when Alex Lozowski sent over the first three of his eventual 14 points from the tee after an early penalty against the returning Chris Robshaw.

After soaking up the initial pressure, Harlequins managed to break clear down the left through the impressive Joe Marchant, but the intensity of the attack was removed when Quins spilt in the following phases.

The first try of the match came on the tenth minute, when Saracens capitalised off a turnover at the line out and winger Sean Maitland came off his line to break through the Quins midfield.

From there, the hosts began to shift possession along the backline and with numbers right Liam Williams dotted down in the corner.

Despite Saracens' early domination on the scoreboard, Harlequins began to enjoy all the possession, with both Kyle Sinckler and Tim Visser posing threats with ball in hand.

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In a topsy turvy spell, Saracens would infringe on the 23rd minute and Demetri Catrakilis stuck over Quins' first points of the match from the penalty.

As hookers Joe Gray and Jamie George didn't see eye-to-eye, referee Tom Foley blew up again and Catrakilis shortened the gap to four points with another penalty.

That would be one of Catrakilis' final contributions to the encounter, as he was taken off on the half hour mark for Marcus Smith. Minutes later after the change and Saracens had their second try.

England second row Maro Itoje received the ball on Saracens' 22 metre line and was able to shrug off the attempted Harlequins tackles to find the gap and dive over the line.

Although Lozowski missed the resulting conversion, he did stick over another penalty on the stroke of half-time to ensure a comfortable buffer for Saracens as both sides headed into the sheds.

Harlequins certainly started the brightest in the second half, with young fly-half Smith at the heart of the early moves.

His chip and chase forced Lozowski to cover well, and a resulting line break shortly after forced Saracens to get back.

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With the match lacking natural flow or intensity due to a number of stoppages both sides began to empty their benches just shy of the 50th minute mark, with Quins bringing on Joe Marler, Francis Saili and Jack Clifford. The latter making his first appearance since October.

All three brought instant zip and Clifford's break came minutes before Harlequins' only try in the match.

From the scrum in Saracens' 22, Harlequins continued to pile through the phases before Danny Care found Horwill at first receiver and the captain got over from close range.

The scores stood at 18-11 with Smith missing the conversion. That deficit was short lived however as Smith's charged down kick forced Harlequins to infringe and Lozowski again stuck over another penalty.

Saracens could have been even further in front shortly after but Schalk Brits fumbled the ball in the corner when a third try looked imminent.

The contest from there was end to end, with both Mike Brown and Liam Williams doing well under the high ball and breaking through.

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Francis Saili must have thought he had his second try in Quins colours when he raced through to cross but he was brought back as Clifford had slightly nudged the ball forward from Care's pass.

Saracens kept up the penalties, and on the 70th minute referee Tom Foley had had enough when he showed replacement Max Malins a yellow card.

Quins had their backs up and continued to add the pressure, but with a number of reset scrums and stoppages supporters were left waiting for a continued string of action in the dying minutes.

With a line out in Saracens' 22, Foley whistled Quins much to the dismay of the forwards.

Saracens continued to add the pressure after forcing Harlequins in to consecutive penalties and Lozowski was on hand once again to score. The final scoreboard reading 24-11.

Following today's match, Harlequins will return to league action on Saturday 7th April, when they host London Irish at The Stoop (kick-off 15:00). Tickets available at tickets.quins.co.uk

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Team line Ups

Gallagher Premiership

League Table 2017-18

Team PLD W D L F A TF TA TB LB PTS
22 17 0 5 618 354 79 42 13 4 85
22 16 0 6 731 350 89 40 10 3 77
22 14 1 7 615 501 79 61 10 3 71
22 14 0 8 455 506 55 60 7 0 63
22 13 0 9 537 472 61 55 5 6 63
22 11 0 11 572 531 63 68 8 4 56
22 11 1 10 490 597 65 73 8 2 56
22 10 0 12 556 531 67 60 9 5 54
22 8 0 14 509 645 64 80 5 6 43
22 7 0 15 479 640 58 78 5 3 36
22 7 0 15 432 601 54 74 5 3 36
22 3 0 19 385 651 42 85 3 7 22