Premiership: Harlequins 22-29 Saracens – Visitors come from behind to win London derby

Alex Lozowski
Alex Lozowski came into the Saracens team for Owen Farrell and kicked 19 points for his team
Harlequins (19) 22
Tries: Tizard, Murley, Green Cons: Allan, Edwards Drop-goal: Care
Saracens (9) 29
Tries: Morris, Wray Cons: Lozowski 2 Pens: Lozowski 5

Saracens staged a brilliant second-half comeback to inflict Harlequins’ first home defeat in 2021 and win an enthralling London derby.

Quins took a 10-point lead into half-time thanks to tries from Hugh Tizard, Cadan Murley and Tyrone Green.

But Saracens clawed their way back with a Dom Morris score and a pair of penalties before captain Jackson Wray’s 77th-minute try decided the outcome.

The result means Sarries leapfrog their opponents to go second in the table.

Saracens are now eight points behind leaders Leicester, although they do have a game in hand.

This promised to be a fascinating game between two sides with contrasting styles, with the explosive attack of Premiership champions Harlequins facing the know-how and experience of Saracens.

It did not disappoint, despite the absence of nine players on England duty.

It was Quins’ firepower which lit up the first half as they found the try line three times from just five forays into the opposition 22.

Inside the opening three minutes, South Africa centre Andre Esterhuizen made a powerful midfield drive and when the ball was worked to lock Hugh Tizard, nobody in red could stop him from going over for his first Premiership try.

After two Alex Lozowski penalties had put Saracens in front, a moment of magic from Tommy Allan set the home side on their way as he missed out three defenders with a looping pass, and the move ended with Cadan Murley touching down in the corner.

Cadan Murley
Cadan Murley scored one of three first-half tries for Harlequins as they took a 19-9 lead

That was the last major involvement for Allan, with the Italy fly-half having to go off for a Head Injury Assessment from which he did not return.

Then it was Tyrone Green who finished off another superb attack from last season’s champions as he arrived at the line from full-back after more good work from Tom Lawday.

Saracens missed a golden opportunity to score a try right at the end of the half when Alex Lewington failed to exploit an overlap, but they did not make the same mistake at the start of the second half.

With Dino Lamb still off the field for a yellow card incurred before the break, Dom Morris went over in the corner as they worked the phases and eventually had men free out wide.

That reduced the gap to three points and proceedings became tense as both sides battled for supremacy. It was why despite having a penalty advantage, Danny Care popped over a drop-goal to take the lead back up to six.

But Sarries used all their nous to get back into the game as they won penalties, from which Lozowski’s boot did the rest, including one from 50 metres.

With everything to play for, Lewington broke through a tackle and released Wray, who went over in the corner for the crucial score.

Lozowski added the conversion to complete a 100% success rate for the afternoon – leaving Quins in need of a converted try to draw level.

And the visitors survived 14 phases on the final attack to secure their most significant victory since their return to the Premiership.

Harlequins senior coach Tabai Matson told BBC Radio London:

“We definitely had the game under control for large parts and it’s always disappointing when you let it slip fundamentally.

“It wasn’t just on one occasion, it was probably two or three times that we let them back into the game.

“You have to give them credit and tip your hat as they were really composed and they trusted their game and kept squeezing.

“We knew we had to be at our best today and we weren’t clearly. They took their chances and played with accuracy having been red hot for the past few weeks.

“We’ll continue to be positive, we have to continue to try putting teams under pressure with the way we play.

“But against the really good teams, it might not always come out on top.”

Saracens director of rugby Mark McCall told BBC Radio London:

“To be three tries to nil, 19-9 down at half-time and not quite ourselves, to drag that back was pretty satisfying.

“We weren’t perfect in that second half, but we just created a different energy and when we had to, we fought and scrapped for everything.

“We just chipped away and we’re absolutely delighted.

“To score straight after half-time was really important but we put ourselves under a bit of pressure afterwards.

“But that was where the game was won as we fought hard on our own tryline and didn’t give up any points.

“We learned out lessons at the breakdown for the last 20 minutes, having been penalised a fair amount beforehand and that was absolutely vital.”

Harlequins: Green; Lynagh, Northmore, Esterhuizen, Murley; Allan, Care (capt); Garcia Botta, Walker, Collier, Tizard, Lamb, Chisholm, Kenningham, Lawday.

Replacements: Riley, Kerrod, Louw, Lewies, Wallace, Steele, Edwards, Jones.

Sin-bin: Lamb (36 mins).

Saracens: Goode (capt); Lewington, Morris, Tompkins, Maitland; Lozowski, Van Zyl; Mako Vunipola, Woolstencroft, Koch, Isiekwe, Swinson, Christie, Wray (capt), B Vunipola.

Replacements: Lewis, Mawi, Riccioni, McFarland, Earl, Davies, Manu Vunipola, Obatoyinbo.

Referee: Craig Maxwell-Keys (RFU).


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