Harlequins 16 Saracens 18: Farrell on fire for Sarries to break unbeaten Quins run
16:54 GMT, 30 September 2012
England fly-half Owen Farrell kicked the winning penalty six minutes from time as Saracens consigned Harlequins to their first defeat in five Aviva Premiership matches this season.
Farrell scored all 18 points for the visitors, with six penalties, in a hard-fought encounter at the Twickenham Stoop.
Harlequins, knocked off the top of the table when Northampton beat Wasps on Friday night, replied with an opportunist try from scrum-half Danny Care and 11 points from the boot of fly-half Nick Evans.
On form: Owen Farrell scored all of Sarries points
Breakout: Brad Barritt is tackled by Harlequins' Nick Easter
Harlequins: Brown, Stegman, Hopper, Turner-Hall, Monye, Evans, Care, Marler, Gray, Johnston, Kohn, Robson, Guest, Robshaw, Easter.
Replacements: Buchanan for Gray (28), Matthews for Kohn (54), Fa'asavalu for Guest (54).
Not Used: Lambert, Collier, Dickson, Clegg, Lindsay-Hague.
Sin Bin: Kohn (33).
Tries: Care. Cons: Evans. Pens: Evans 3.
Saracens: Goode, Ashton, Tomkins, Barritt, Wyles, Farrell, Wigglesworth, Gill, Brits, Du Plessis, Borthwick, Hargreaves, Brown, Fraser, Joubert.
Replacements: Strettle for Tomkins (53), Hodgson for Wyles (69), Spencer for Wigglesworth (74), Vunipola for Gill (49), Smit for Brits (63), Stevens for Du Plessis (45), Kruis for Hargreaves (54), Saull for Fraser (72).
Sin Bin: Kruis (66).
Pens: Farrell 6.
Ref: Andrew Small (RFU).
But the usually dependable former All
Black missed three kickable second-half penalties, any one of which
would have been enough to preserve Quins' 100 per cent record this
Evans kicked Harlequins into a
second-minute lead but six minutes later he saw a second attempt rebound
off the post after Sarries flanker Will Fraser pulled down a rolling
Saracens drew level in the 12th minute with Farrell's simple opening penalty after Harlequins strayed offside.
Two minutes later Evans restored his side's lead with his second successful kick.
Farrell equalised again in the 21st
minute after former England number eight Nick Easter was penalised for
not rolling away from a ruck.
The first try-scoring opportunity was
wasted by Quins. Evans found Easter but, with full-back Mike Brown
outside him, the back-row man's final pass went straight into the arms
of Saracens' England wing Chris Ashton.
A quick break out of defence put
Sarries on the front foot when Farrell and hooker Schalk Brits combined
to release Ashton down the right touchline but he was superbly tackled
into touch by Brown.
Harlequins hit trouble when they lost
hooker Joe Gray to injury, had lock Ollie Kohn sin-binned and fell
behind to Farrell's third penalty.
Over the line: Danny Care dives over to score a try
Gray's game ended in the 28th minute
when he was replaced for the second time by Rob Buchanan, only four
minutes after returning to the pitch following a 14-minute blood-injury
Five minutes later referee Andrew
Small showed Kohn the yellow card for killing the ball near his own line
and Farrell landed the resulting penalty.
On the move: Care breaks through
But 14-man Quins put the misfortunes
behind them when Care, looking far more lively than England scrum-half
rival and opposite number Richard Wigglesworth, scored a real sniper's
Exploiting a rare gap in the
Premiership's meanest defence, he dashed clear to touch down near the
posts, leaving Evans a simple conversion.
Charge: Harlequins' Mike Brown breaks through a tackle from Saracens' Will Fraser (left) and Steve Borthwick
Farrell reduced Quins' lead to a single point with a 45-metre penalty four minutes into the second half.
Then hooker Brits produced a touch of
magic worthy of a half-back when he found space and directed an
inch-perfect kick into the corner for the chasing Ashton but he was once
again thwarted by Brown's first-class covering.
Evans missed a 52nd-minute penalty
kick for Harlequins and, three minutes later, Farrell kicked the
visitors ahead after Quins were penalised at the breakdown.
Pure gold: Mo Farah does the Mobot with the Harlequins mascots and daughter Rihanna
Evans was off-target again in the 62nd
minute after Sarries' replacement prop Mako Vunipola was penalised for
entering a ruck from the side.
But Evans made no mistake from in
front of the posts in the 66th minute after Saracens' replacement lock
George Kruis, who had only been on the pitch for 12 minutes, was
yellow-carded for hands in the ruck.
Evans then missed another penalty shot before Farrell kicked the winner in the 74th minute.