Saracens get maximum haul against Quins
March 22, 2014
Saracens' Jacques Burger makes some ground against Harlequins
© Getty Images
Harlequins rested their England contingent for their Wembley showdown with Saracens and paid the price by losing ground in the race for a place in the Aviva Premiership play-offs.
Chris Robshaw, Danny Care and Mike Brown were given the weekend off following their involvement in the RBS Six Nations and Quins desperately missed their three most influential players.
While the trio were absent as a new attendance record for a club match of 83,889 was set at Wembley, Saracens started Owen Farrell and Mako Vunipola, both of whom featured against Italy last Saturday. Farrell was superb as he masterminded Quins' seventh defeat of the season behind a dominant pack, finishing with a try, three conversions and two penalties in an individual haul of 17 points.
The England fly-half and man of the match, along with Vunipola, was replaced in the final quarter but by that point Saracens were already beyond reach.
Chris Ashton, George Kruis, Jacques Burger and Marcelo Bosch also ran in tries in a resounding victory that restores them to the summit of the Premiership table in the wake of Northampton's defeat at Sale. Karl Dickson and Sam Smith crossed for Quins, who were spirited but outgunned in all departments and have only five matches left to force their way into play-off contention.
A brutal opening five minutes are sure to interest the citing officer with Nick Kennedy's uppercut on Steve Borthwick trumped by a dangerous tackle on David Strettle.
Strettle was struck by a swinging arm from Maurie Fa'asavalu and then hit his head on the Wembley turf, resulting in several minutes of treatment before being carried off on a stretcher.
A bright spell from Harlequins ended in calamity when Nick Easter shovelled on a hair-brained pass that was picked off by Ashton.
There was still a chance for Ugo Monye to prevent Ashton pulling clear but he slipped off the tackle and the England wing ran three-quarters of the pitch to score.
Quins were guilty of a more conspicuous defensive error in the 27th minute when Kennedy feebly rolled down the legs of Kruis and the lock cantered over unopposed.
Fine build up play preceded the score, but the 2012 Premiership champions were picked apart far too easily.
Quick wits from Dickson, who scampered through a gap around the breakdown to dart over from close range, narrowed the gap only for his team to hit the self-destruct button once more on the stroke of half time. Of all players it was Nick Evans, the composed veteran former All Black fly-half, who flung an unnecessary pass 10 metres out from his own line that was picked off by Farrell for Saracens' third try.
Determined work from wing Smith, a late replacement for Tom Williams who was injured during the warm-up, enabled Quins to cross on the blindside early in the second half.
The visitors were enjoying their brightest spell of the match, aided by Borthwick being sin-binned for a line-out infringement, but once the Saracens skipper returned they cracked once again.
Hooker Schalk Brits darted free from a line-out and was hauled down several metres short of the whitewash, but Burger was on hand to gather his pass out of the tackle and touch down.
Quins' humiliation was completed in the 80th minute when their disintegrating defence allowed Bosch to skip in under the posts.
Ashton dives in for the opening try of the game against Harlequins © Getty Images
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd
Communication error please reload the page.
Chelsea forward Eden Hazard believes playing in the Premier League has made him a better player
New South Wales Waratahs have overcome a night of dreadful handling to defeat a stubborn Blues outfit by 12 points in Sydney
Lewis Hamilton just took pole position ahead of Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel by 0.074s at the Malaysian Grand Prix as rain played a factor in a tense qualifying session in Sepang
Fernando Alonso is confident McLaren will not be getting knocked out of Q1 for long this season despite his first qualifying session with McLaren leaving him 18th on the grid at the Malaysian Grand Prix
The Highlanders have hit back from last week's narrow loss to the Hurricanes with a powerful display against the Stormers at Forsyth Barr Stadium
Mudslinging and an agreement on something that will never happen, it's all in a day's work for a Formula One boss, as Maurice Hamilton explains...
Who has driven in the most GPs before taking pole position?
Fallout continues from the NSW-Brumbies derby, with one Tahs forward - not Potgieter - surprised by other unsavoury comments during the game, Greg Growden reports
Greg Growden previews Super Rugby round 7. We've also got key stats, team news and all the line-ups to inform your ESPN Footytips Super Rugby picks
Will Mercedes dominate again? Can anybody catch up with the help of a rainstorm? And will the Red Bull/Renault relationship tear itself apart? All those questions and more will be answered at this weekend's Malaysian Grand Prix
Kevin De Bruyne would consider a move back to Chelsea despite barely featuring in his time at Stamford Bridge, sources told ESPN
Liverpool striker Daniel Sturridge fears an extended spell out of action after tearing a hip muscle, England manager Roy Hodgson has revealed
Manchester United are determined to keep Angel Di Maria at Old Trafford, club sources have told ESPN, despite recent uncertainty over his future
Barcelona forward Luis Suarez has said he was treated "worse than if I were a hooligan" when FIFA banned him for biting Italy defender Giorgio Chiellini at the World Cup
Andy Murray has expressed fears that his game will regress without full-time coaching in a candid exchange with a fellow Twitter user as he prepares to add former world No.4 Jonas Bjorkman to his coaching team
Everton defender Phil Jagielka is to have surgery on a badly gashed ankle, manager David Moyes has confirmed
Unbeaten heavyweight Dillian Whyte, 28, (14-0, 11 KOs) tells ESPN where his rivalry with Anthony Joshua stems from and outlines the plan for his career this year after returning from a doping ban in November
Who has driven in the most GPs before taking pole position?
Some of the best fighters to ever glove up have plied their trade in the Octagon - now ESPN list the 10 best who have fought under the UFC banner
Who was the first Briton to win the British Grand Prix?