Planet Rugby

Saracens rule at Twickenham

27th December 2011 18:24

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David Strettle Saracens crossing for a try against Harlequins Twickenham

Match winner: David Strettle scores for Saracens

Defending Premiership champions Saracens showed their class on Tuesday with a 19-11 victory over league leaders Harlequins at a sold-out Twickenham.

Saracens imposed Harlequins' first Aviva Premiership defeat of the season as they emerged triumphant in 'Big Game 4.'

It was Sarries who started the faster and they raced into a 19-6 lead at the break through four Owen Farrell penalties and a converted David Strettle try.

But Harlequins gradually grew into the game and after Nick Evans had kicked two three-pointers, Joe Marler powered over to give them renewed hope, but Saracens held on to end Quins' winning run.

This much anticipated encounter at the home of English rugby between the two leading Premiership sides generated a full-house of 82,000.

It was a battle between the country's great entertainers and the more efficient 'visitors.' And it was Saracens who dominated the opening half.

Putting pressure on the Quins' attack, Sarries took advantage of the hosts' ill-discipline. After eight minutes, Farrell opened the scoring with a penalty.

Moments later, he struck again with his superbly accurate boot before adding another, as the Watford-based outfit stormed into an early nine point lead.

Harlequins got themselves on the board through an Evans' penalty but a catastrophic pass from Marler gave Strettle a simple intercept try. Farrell converted and then added a further three-pointer with just 25 minutes played.

Quins set about getting themselves back into the game and despite having most of the territory, they were struggling to break through a solid red wall.

That was until Evans converted a penalty opportunity with the last kick of the half to leave Saracens in control at 19-6.

The hosts picked up the pace in the second half and rewarded for their pressure when Marler went from villain to hero as he touched down.

Harlequins tried in vain to get within losing bonus-point territory at the very least, but they couldn't break an imposing Saracens' rearguard.

The scorers:

For Harlequins:
Try: Marler
Pens: Evans 2

For Saracens:
Try: Strettle
Con: Farrell
Pens: Farrell 4

The teams:

Harlequins: 15 Mike Brown, 14 Seb Stegmann, 13 Matt Hopper, 12 Jordan Turner-Hall, 11 Ugo Monye, 10 Nick Evans, 9 Danny Care, 8 Nick Easter, 7 Chris Robshaw (c), 6 Maurie Fa'asavalu, 5 George Robson, 4 Tomas Vallejos, 3 James Johnston, 2 Chris Brooker, 1 Joe Marler.
Replacements: 16 Joe Gray, 17 Mark Lambert, 18 Tim Fairbrother, 19 Charlie Matthews, 20 Luke Wallace, 21 Richard Bolt, 22 Rory Clegg, 23 Tom Williams.

Saracens: 15 Alex Goode, 14 David Strettle, 13 Owen Farrell, 12 Brad Barritt, 11 James Short, 10 Charlie Hodgson, 9 Peter Stringer, 8 Ernst Joubert, 7 Andy Saull, 6 Kelly Brown, 5 George Kruis, 4 Steve Borthwick (c), 3 Carlos Nieto, 2 Schalk Brits, 1 Rhys Gill.
Replacements: 16 Jamie George, 17 John Smit, 18 Matt Stevens, 19 Mouritz Botha, 20 Jackson Wray, 21 Ben Spencer, 22 Adam Powell, 23 Chris Wyles.

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