Apr 16, 2016
Saracens fight off Quins challenge to secure Derby Day spoils at Wembley Stadium
Saracens moved one step closer to securing a home Aviva Premiership semi-final as they ran out 22-12 winners over Harlequins at Wembley Stadium.
A first-half double from Chris Ashton alongside a try from England lock George Kruis put the home side into the driving seat before the break before a 73rd minute penalty from replacement Owen Farrell sealed the victory.
Quins kept themselves in the game throughout thanks to the boot of Ben Botica, who kicked all of his side’s 12 points but it was the North London club that took the spoils in an end-to-end thriller.
Quins got the scoreboard up and running in front of an 80,650 strong crowd as Ben Botica slotted a penalty on four minutes.
However, it was Saracens who made the most of the expansive Wembley turf putting together wave after wave of attack in the opening quarter of an hour and it wasn’t long before their endeavor was rewarded when Chris Ashton crossed for his first of the match.
Quick hands from Charlie Hodgson and Alex Goode created the space out wide for the winger who needed no second invitation to scamper over to score.
Quins quickly responded, Botica kicking his side into the lead with another penalty attempt.
A series of penalties gifted Sarries field position and a lineout five metres out. They looked to regret their decision to turn down the chance of three points when Quins stole the throw in from Brits.
However, a never say die attitude from George Kruis saw him cross for his side’s second of the day when he ripped the ball from the clutches of Danny Care millimeters away from the line and dived his way over to score.
Botica added a further penalty for the away side but it was Saracens who showed their attacking prowess once again shortly before the break, Ashton crossing for his second of the match.
The move started deep within the Quins half by Schalk Brits who dazzled the Quins defence with his dancing feet before releasing his winger to round the move off with his trademark ash splash. Charlie Hodgson added the extras taking the score to 19-9 at the break.
Harlequins scored first after the break, Botica slotting his fourth penalty of the match trimming Sarries lead back to three.
Despite being down on the scoreboard Quins continued to throw the ball around, causing Saracens problems in defence through breaks from Ross Chisolm and Marland Yarde, Saracens weathering the onslaught with full-back Alex Goode leading the exit-strategy.
As the game ticked into the closing quarter of an hour, indiscipline crept into the ranks of both sides, which added to the end-to-end nature of the second forty.
A penalty from replacement Owen Farrell kicked Saracens into a 10-point lead on 73 minutes, punshing indiscipline from Dave Ward at the breakdown, setting up a frantic finale as Quins chased the game.
Quins pressure on the home side was rewarded with a penalty on 79th minute, giving Conor O’Shea’s men the chance of a losing bonus point but it was pushed wide by the fly-half, leaving them with little consolation for their endeavours as attentions now turn to Europe next weekend.
15 Alex Goode; 14 Chris Ashton; 13 Marcelo Bosch; 12 Duncan Taylor; 11 Chris Wyles; 10 Charlie Hodgson; 9 Neil De Kock; 1 Mako Vunipola (c); 2 Schalk Brits; 3 Petrus Du Plessis; 4 Jim Hamilton; 5 George Kruis; 6 Michael Rhodes; 7 Jackson Wray; 8 Billy Vunipola:
Replacements 16 Jared Saunders; 17 Richard Barrington; 18 Titi Lamositele;19 Hayden Smith; 20 Samu Vunisa; 21 Richard Wigglesworth; 22 Owen Farrell; 23 Nick Tompkins
Scores Tries Ashton x 2; Kruis:
Cons Hodgson x 2:
Replacements used: Saunders for Brits (50); Barrington for M.Vunipola (50); Lamositele for Du Plessis (50); Smith for Hamilton (56); Vunisa for B.Vunipola (75); Wigglesworth for De Kock (53); Farrell for Hodgson (55); Tomkins for Wyles (77):
15 Mike Brown; 14 Marland Yarde; 13 Joe Marchant; 12 Jamie Roberts; 11 Tim Visser; 10 Ben Botica; 9 Danny Care ©; 1 Mark Lambert; 2 Joe Gray; 3 Will Collier; 4 Charlie Matthews; 5 Sam Twomey; 6 Chris Robshaw; 7 Jack Clifford; 8 Nick Easter.
Replacements 16 Dave Ward; 17 Owen Evans; 18 Kyle Sinckler; 19 George Merrick; 20 Mat Luamanu; 21 Karl Dickson; 22 Matt Hopper; 23 Ross Chisholm:
Harlequin scores Penalties Botica x 4
Replacements used: Ward for Gray (62); Evans for Lambert (69-77); Sinckler For Collier (62); Luamanu for Clifford (60); Dickson for Care (72); Chisholm for Visser (17):
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