Owen Farrell outclasses England rival Marcus Smith as Saracens hammer Harlequins

Planet Rugby
England fly-half Owen Farrell in action for Saracens against Harlequins in the Premiership.

England fly-half Owen Farrell in action for Saracens against Harlequins in the Premiership.

Owen Farrell got the better of Marcus Smith in the London derby as Saracens made it four victories in a row by thrashing Harlequins 38-10 at the Stoop.

Farrell was excellent in what was a complete team performance on Saturday, converting four of their six tries and directing operations superbly.

The England fly-half was also helped by a superb effort from the pack, who laid the platform for this victory.

Three of their tries came from the forwards, with Juan Martin Gonzalez, Jamie George and Andy Christie touching down, while Olly Hartley, Tom Parton and Alex Lewington also went over.

Harlequins responded through Andre Esterhuizen’s score, while Smith kicked five points off the tee, but the playmaker – and his side – were completely outplayed.

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Saracens overcame some key injuries to secure an impressive win. Ben Earl and Elliot Daly were lost to respective knee and hamstring problems during the warm-up, and just seconds into the game, Alex Lozowski was forced off after twisting awkwardly when chasing down Smith.

Both teams’ World Cup players were on parade, and it was Farrell and Maro Itoje who stood out among them, with the lock catching the eye with a couple of big runs but also proving a handful at close quarters.

Smith and Alex Dombrandt did little to impress England head coach Steve Borthwick, who was watching from the stands, but the fault for a meek Harlequins performance was hardly theirs alone.

Saracens’ pack was typically menacing from start to finish, and they supplied the opening try as part of a frantic opening with the excellent Gonzalez driving over from short range.

The champions frequently shuttled the ball across the field and with some success, forcing Quins to scramble out wide.

When the home ruck defence had gone missing near the centre of the pitch, Saracens reacted in a flash, with Christie stampeding into space only for the supporting Ivan van Zyl to cut an awkward supporting line.

Quins were breached too easily again on the half-hour mark when a counterattack launched by Alex Goode was given legs by Itoje, and a phase later, Hartley had barged over.

A line-out drive finished by Jamie George provided Saracens’ next try as the hosts continued to be overpowered up front and as they trudged off for half-time 19-3 behind, there was no obvious way back.

Their outlook continued to deteriorate as Christie added a maul try soon after the interval, registering the bonus point, but only once Itoje had staged a marauding run.

Smith was trying his best to inspire a revival, on one occasion using his footwork to weave into space, and it took a try-saving tackle from Lewington to stop Quins from scoring.

Pressure was building on the Saracens line but they weathered the storm, advanced downfield and used a mixture of forward power and polished back play to cross through Parton.

Lewington and Esterhuizen exchanged tries and Saracens could have plundered one more late on but Tom Willis spilt the ball forward over the line following fine approach work by Gonzalez.

READ MORE: England’s World Cup star suffers ‘serious’ injury prior to Saracens’ London derby