In a derby day clash in front of yet another sold-out Stoop, Harlequins welcomed North London side Saracens in round eight of the 21/22 Gallagher Premiership season. A clash that proved old rivalries never die, with a testy encounter seeing the visitors edge a win away from home.
Playing Quins for the first time since the men in the Famous Quarter’s electric revival during the 20/21 season, Saracens did not have to wait long to fall victim to the expansive Quins attack. Harlequin runners made hay through the heart of the Saracens defence in the build-up to the first try of the day, with bruising centre Andre Esterhuizen making the first dent in the Saracens defence before Harlequins Academy lock Hugh Tizard displayed immense strength to wrestle his way past multiple defenders to touch down for the first score of the afternoon. Allan pushes his conversion wide, but it was a strong start for the reigning Premiership champions with a five-point lead in as many minutes.
Quins were guilty of following up their score with errors, with Saracens fly-half Alex Lozowski able to kick consecutive penalties after the home side were penalised by referee Craig Maxwell-Keys at the breakdown, taking Sarries into a one-point lead at 5-6 in the 14th minute.
With the rain returning and a rainbow sprouting above the DHL stand, Quins regained the lead with a classic Quins try. The West Londoners found space down the left flank after a silky cut out pass from fly-half Allan found number eight Tom Lawday cantering down the touchline. The back row fed inside to wing Cadan Murley, bumping Sarries fullback Alex Goode out the way and over the touchline for the score. Allan made no mistake with his conversion this time, permitting Quins a six-point lead as the stadium was once again brought to their feet in full voice.
Quins conceded another breakdown penalty ten minutes from half-time, with Lozowski adding a third kick to his tally to bring his side to within three points of the hosts.
Replacing Allan at fly-half after the Italian international went off for a HIA, former England Sevens man Will Edwards sparked a third score for Quins. Attacking the Saracens line, Edwards found a gap to send Lawday through. Bouncing the first defender and sprinting into the opposition’s half, the back row drew the final defender before sending the final pass to electric fullback Tyrone Green, to run in under the posts. Edwards added the conversion for a full seven-point score and a ten-point lead.
Quins were forced to defend for the remainder of the first-half after second row Dino Lamb was shown a yellow card by referee Craig Maxwell-Keys for a clear out at ruck time that was deemed illegal. Harlequins displayed notable grit to ensure they did not concede a further score before the break, despite being down a man.
Saracens were the side that came out of the box firing after half-time talks, with the men in red making the most of their one-man advantage to send centre Dominic Morris over for their first try of the day. Lozowski added the two-point conversion to bring Saracens to 16 points for the day, reducing Quins’ lead to three once again.
Restored to a full contingent as Dino Lamb returned to the field with 25 minutes left to play, Quins were camped deep inside the Saracens half, with scrum-half Danny Care opting for the drop-goal to restore a six-point lead, but was cancelled out soon after, with the lead swinging in Saracens’ favour following two more Lozowski penalties and a late try for back row Jackson Wray, taking the score to 22-29 in the visitors’ favour.
Despite a run at the Saracens defence with the clock in the red in hopes of claiming a draw, possession was lost deep in the visitors’ territory, securing their win. A losing bonus-point for Harlequins would be the silver lining of a derby defeat.