Quins fall short in 60 point thriller in ‘showdown’ against Saracens at Tottenham Hotspur stadium

By Harlequins

28th Mar 2023 | Rugby


Credit: JMP/Juan Gasparini for @harlequins.
Credit: JMP/Juan Gasparini for @harlequins.

Quins started fast, turning Saracens over with some fantastic work on the floor, forcing them to concede an early penalty in their own 22.

Danny Care took the quick tap, feeding Smith who threw the ball wide to Dombrandt. With work still to do, Dombrandt dummied the ball and stepped inside, powering over the line. Smith converted to give the visitors a 0-7 lead with just two minutes gone.

Saracens responded well, pinning Quins deep inside their own half for the exchanges that followed. Harlequins defended the lineout and subsequent driving maul, but a neat offload from Ben Earl to Lozowski would give Saracens their first try under the posts, which Farrell converted to level the scores on seven minutes.

Quins showed some strong attacking play in the period that followed, but it would be a pre-planned lineout move from Saracens that would give the Tottenham Hotspur stadium their next points. Lozowski cut a line through the Harlequins defence but was brought down just short, they recycled well and spread the ball out to Tompkins who went over for Saracens' second. Farrell converted to give the hosts a seven point lead on 15 minutes.

A yellow card for captain Danny Care on 20 minutes for playing the nine would provide Saracens with their next points of the match, Owen Farrell slotted the resulting penalty to make the score 17-7 at the end of the first quarter.

Despite the lack of a scrum half, Quins continued to string phases together well, with Smith operating at nine in the absence of his half back partner. A neat cross field kick at the base from Smith to England teammate Joe Marchant saw the winger climb high and pull off an aerobatic catch out wide. Marchant evaded the defender but was brought down just inside the Saracens 22.

Back to a full complement, Quins pressed on and both sides traded blows up front as the physical battle wore on. A huge carry from Andre Esterhuizen into Saracens out half Owen Farrell had the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium crowd on their feet as the South African sent Farrell stumbling backwards.

It would be Saracens though who had the final say of the half, a break out wide was defended well by Quins, but the hosts recycled well and spread the ball wide through the hands to Christie who crossed in the corner. The conversion was missed but the score stood at 22-7 as the first half came to a close.

Quins came out firing in the second half, a Saracens dropped ball from the kick off gave the visitors early possession inside Sarries' 22. The hosts defended well, but on 42 minutes a strong Quins scrum allowed Alex Dombrandt to pop the ball up from the base. Smith fizzed a flat pass wide to Cadan Murley who dove over for Quins' second of the match. Another touch line conversion from Smith narrowed Saracens' lead to eight points.

Saracens' attack began to fire, and they looked sure to score when the ball found Max Malins in space, but a huge defensive effort from try scorer Murley saw the Quins winger drive Malins backwards in the tackle and the ball was turned over.

The next score would be a Saracens one, as Maitland went over and Farrell converted to make the score 29-14 with 25 minutes to go. Just four minutes later, Cadan Murley would score his second. Esterhuizen spun the ball wide to Murley, who stepped inside and carried hard into his opposite number, powering over and dotting down to narrow the deficit to ten points as the game entered the final quarter.

Saracens scored their final try on 65 minutes, Itoje powered over from close range to make the score 36-19 with 15 minutes to go.

A bit of magic from Quins' captain Danny Care would provide their final score, the scrum half picking from the base and putting in a sublime cross field kick to Joe Marchant who rose highest and made the take in the air, dotting the ball down as he fell. Marchant's try narrowed Saracens' lead to 12 points on 75 minutes.

Both sides continued to battle hard in the final minutes of the match, but ultimately it would end in defeat for Quins, with Saracens returning to The Stonex with a 36-24 win. A try bonus point for Quins which may prove vital in the context of the season providing some reward for their efforts.

Now all eyes turn to Europe, or Cape Town, as Harlequins travel to South Africa for their round of 16 clash with The Stormers next weekend.

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