Match Report: Storm 41-17 Harlequins A
Saracens Storm head into 2020 top of the Premiership Rugby Shield Southern Conference after a resounding 41-17 win over Harlequins A.
Manu Vunipola’s boot and a Tom Whiteley try had the north Londoners ahead at the interval before second-half scores from Joe Gray, Charlie Watson and Kapeli Pifeleti (2) sealed the contest.
Sarries were strong at the set-piece early on with Jon Kpoku athletically taking several Gray lobs but in the open, Quins were forcing the hosts into a number of handling errors.
It allowed the visitors to counter on the odd occasion, one of which needed a try-saving tackle from Whiteley to keep the scoreboard pointless.
Inside centre Lennox Anyanwu burst through on an arcing run and drew Matt Gallagher in order to feed Travis Ismaiel on an open trot to the corner but Whiteley had other ideas, scooting back on the diagonal to haul the winger down five metres out.
Harlequins did cross moments later though. Keeping the pressure on deep in home territory, Valentine, a guest player from London Scottish, bundled over the whitewash.
Vunipola struck back with a kick at goal as the fog began to descend on Allianz Park, however another close range finish, this time from Northmore, extended Quins’ advantage to 12.
Storm regrouped from the restart and put some meaningful phases together in their attempt to claw their way back into the contest.
Their efforts eventually paid off. Sean Reffell bulldozing carry led to a rampaging Andy Christie crashing on to an inside pass and his pinpoint offload to the left saw Whiteley sprint under the posts.
On the stroke of half-time, Adam Powell’s side grasped the lead. An overthrown line-out was pounced on by Renaldo Bothma inside his own 22 and Reffell was lightning quick to get in a strong jackal to win a penalty that Vunipola gratefully clipped over to end the first 40.
The fly-half needed his tee again in the 48thminute after good work from the forwards. The initial graft came from Elliott Obatoyinbo whose punt put pressure on Quins in their own 22, resulting in a penalty. Nudged to the corner, Gray regathered his throw and flopped on the line for the hosts’ second try.
Quins responded by brushing the line in the corner after Whiteley had hauled down the powerful Dino Lamb, though the three-point margin between the teams didn’t last long.
From the restart, Calum Clark smother the ball on the deck to turnover and short after Watson displayed a brilliant leg drive for his third try in two games.
Replacement hooker Pifeleti burrowed his way over for two similar tries late to secure Storm’s fourth bonus-point victory of the Shield campaign and top spot in the Southern Conference heading into the New Year.