Monday, 1st October 2018 @ 22:30
Saracens Storm 35
Harlequins saw their 100 per cent record in the Premiership Rugby Shield come to an end at Allianz Park on Monday evening.
Kick-off was pushed back by half an hour after the Harlequins team bus got delayed on the M25. In the early passages of the match, Saracens sprinted to an early lead through the boot of Tom Whiteley and a try from number eight Sione Vailanu.
With the score at 10-0 to the hosts and almost 20 minutes on the clock Harlequins came to life and a lively burst from Max Coyle, starting on the wing in place of the illness-stricken Charlie Walker, forced a penalty for the visitors ten yards from Saracens’ line. Scrum-half Dave Lewis took a quick tap and go for the five points and Ross Chisholm converted to get Quins back into it.
Chisholm, so prolific with the boot when he last played a Shield match against Bristol Bears United at The Stoop, missed a couple of first-half penalties and Saracens soon made Harlequins pay as they began to outmuscle Quins' young scrum in the opening 40 minutes.
With former Quin Joe Gray playing at hooker Saracens impressed at the set-piece and threatened to make it count for the remainder of the first half. Finally they did when, after a series of resets on their own five-yard line, they were awarded a penalty try.
Chisholm closed the gap to three points in the second half when some lovely running rugby from Alex Dombrandt and Hugh Tizard presented him with a golden opportunity to score underneath the posts; the simple conversion added to make the score 17-14.
Saracens started to turn the screw and, when they took a quick penalty just within Quins' 22 and shipped it down the line, Ali Crossdale was on hand to score after 56 minutes.
Quins remained resilient, however, and were back to 22-17 after 60 minutes when, after a lengthy stoppage as fly-half James Dixon left the field on a stretcher with a leg injury, Chisholm converted a penalty from 35 metres.
While Quins were able to re-dress the balance in the scrum, Saracens remained dominant in attack and sustained pressure led to two penalties in quick succession with ten minutes remaining. Whiteley, superb from the kicking tee all night, made sure with two penalties and the match started to get away from a Quins side who put up an incredibly spirited defence with some ferocious tackling on their own try line.
A superb breakaway try for Ben Earl after a bit of midfield ping-pong made sure of the victory for Saracens. Both sides have now won three and lost one match in this season's competition.
Next up at The Stoop
Harlequins v Saracens in Round 6 of the Gallagher Premiership, Saturday 6th October (kick-off 19:30). Tickets available online or by calling the Ticket Office on 020 8410 6010.