Saracens 34-26 Harlequins: Host side win the day to cement their hold at the top of the Premiership
Saracens 36-24 Harlequins: Owen Farrell wins the battle of No10, but at what cost after injury? As the host side win the day at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium to cement their hold at the top of the Premiership
- Marcus Smith tried to inspire Quins fightback, but couldn’t see off the hosts
- Cadan Murley kept his team in the hunt with impressive second-half showing
- Owen Farrell shrugged off Six Nations sadness, but came off with foot injury
Owen Farrell endured mixed emotions at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium as he shrugged off his Six Nations despair to help Sarries’ clinch a play-off home semi-final.
The fly-half won his personal duel with Marcus Smith, and also shattered Quins’ own top-four chances, but he also limped off the field in agony after damaging his left foot.
It’s a knock which could put in jeopardy his hopes of playing in the huge home Champions Cup last 16 clash with Ospreys next Sunday.
Saracens boss Mark McCall said: ‘I think he’s just aggravated the ankle he aggravated with England. I don’t know how that’s going to be next week, we must wait and see.’
Farrell, who kicked 11 points, was a man on a mission against England team-mate Smith and needing to release the disappointment of Steve Borthwick’s men losing three of their five Six Nations games.
Marcus Smith limped off before time during Saracens’ match-winning clash against Quins
Marcus Smith inspired a fight-back from his side but couldn’t overturn the deficit
Sarries took another big step towards a sixth domestic title with a bonus-point win over Quins in front of a 55,000 crowd who saw the teams share nine tries.
And Sarries No 8 Billy Vunipola said: ‘We’ve got ourselves a home semi now and, hopefully, we can do something special this year. We were a bit scratchy in parts. We have to fix that if we want to go on and do well.’
England hooker Jamie George added: ‘We love playing at StoneX so it’s worked out ideal for the play-offs. This was a big win for us but there’s still plenty to do now in the final few weeks domestically and in Europe.’
Sarries built a 22-7 half-time advantage, even though England No 8 Alex Dombrandt crashed over for a try to give Quins a flying start after just 90 seconds.
Ben Earl sent Alex Lozowski on his way across and Farrell converted to level the score. He repeated the act within a few minutes with Lozowski making the crucial burst and Nick Tompkins’ finishing off a fine move.
Danny Care was involved in a controversial moment with the veteran England man seemed fortunate to escape punishment in a similar incident which saw Freddie Steward dismissed for England against Ireland. His clumsy hit on Ivan van Zyl, who had raced after his own chip through, left the South African scrum-half dazed having struck his head on his Quins rival. Referee Luke Pearce decided it was merely accidental with Care trying to avoid contact.
Care, however, was sent to the sin bin moments later for deliberately knocking the ball out from van Zyl’s hands at a ruck. Farrell kicked the penalty. Strangely, it was only after this that Van Zyl was called off to undergo an HIA, which he passed, for the earlier incident.
Referee Pearce was then on the receiving end of an accidental hit from giant South African giant Irne Herbst which brought cheers of amusement from the crowds.
Andy Christie’s try just before the break extended Sarries’ advantage but Quins produced a similar fast start to the second half to raise hopes of a fightback. Farrell held up Dombrandt across his own line, but there was no stopping wing Cadan Murley charging over.
Billy Vunipola (holding the ball) was named Man of the Match on Saturday afternoon
Christie supplied a sublime pass inside for Sean Maitland to cross for Sarries’ fourth try before Murley replied again, winning a battle of strength with Max Malins to ground the ball in the left corner.
But Sarries were still not done and Maro Itoje surged over for the fifth try. Farrell converted but then hobbled off after he hurt his anle attempting to tackle Sam Riley.
Still Quins would not give in and after Christie was shown a yellow card for foul play nine minutes from time Joe Marchant caught Care’s crossfield kick to score.
Quins boss Tabai Matson said: ‘We wanted to be physical and had to be at our best but we were not. We have games in hand and will fight to the last game.’
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