Sunday, 3rd December 2017 @ 18:00
Kick off 19:45
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A Tim Visser try, with only a minute left on the clock, was enough for Harlequins to stun Saracens 20-19 at The Stoop.
The visitors stormed out of the blocks scoring ten points in as many minutes before Harlequins fought their way back into the match. While they dominated possession and territory they were only rewarded with a Charlie Walker try, superbly assisted by Danny Care, as they trailed 5-10 at the break.
Saracens stayed in front throughout the second half thanks to three Owen Farrell penalties, but a heroic Harlequins fightback in the final ten minutes set up a incredible victory. Danny Care was at the heart of the win with two more assists from the boot, first to Walker before Visser’s astonishing winner. The South West Londoners beating their local rivals 20-19 for their third win at The Stoop in as many years.
Earlier, Harlequins arrived at The Stoop after back-to-back losses to Exeter Chiefs and Bath Rugby but recent success against Saracens meant the match was far from a formality.
Consecutive wins at The Stoop across the last two seasons, alongside wins in the Anglo-Welsh Cup and A League last month, gave the sold out crowd something to feel confident about but the visitors started the match well on top.
A converted Brad Barritt try in the opening minutes, followed up by an Owen Farrell penalty, gave the North London outfit a 0-10 lead with just ten minutes gone.
Quins however didn’t blink and they wrestled their way back into the encounter with their physicality and set piece as they closed out the half dominating the key statistical categories. While the forwards hammered away at the Saracens line they struggled to find a way through the white wall as Maro Itoje, Jamie George and the rest of the tight five made tackle after tackle.
It would take some brilliance to get through, and the returning Danny Care was the man for the job. A pin point cross field kick from the base of a ruck found Charlie Walker on the wing to go over and cut the gap to 5-10 after 27 minutes.
Harlequins continued to dominate the remainder of the half but they couldn’t penetrate the defence a second time and had to settle with the five point deficit at the break.
In the second half James Lang immediately cut the gap with a penalty but the war of attrition began to take its toll on the Quins pack as Will Collier and James Horwill were both forced off.
The European champions slowly but surely found their way back into the fixture and two Farrell penalties gave them an 8-16 lead with an hour gone.
The match was not over.
There were plenty of heroes on the day for Harlequins as Chris Robshaw was at his workhorse best, Renaldo Bothma was devastating on debut and Mike Brown was clinical from the back – but one returning international stood above the rest and turned the match on its head.
With a penalty close to half way, Care quick tapped and was off to the races. He chipped over Alex Goode, and looked to have been taken out, but Walker was on hand to streak over and complete his brace. Lang’s conversion making it 15-16 with less than ten minutes to play.
Farrell gave his side breathing room with a three pointer in the 75th minute but it proved to be one point too little as Harlequins soon stunned the 14,800 in attendance.
With the clock winding down James Lang kicked a penalty deep in the Saracens 22m, another exquisite touch finder from the fly-half. Playing with advantage from the line out Care once again put foot to ball and found winger Tim Visser in the corner and the Scottish international collected to score the winner.
While the final conversion sailed wide it did not matter as the try left only 15 seconds on the clock and Harlequins held on to win 20-19 in the epic encounter.
The win saw Harlequins move up three spots on the Aviva Premiership table and crucially jumped Northampton Saints, Sale Sharks and Newcastle Falcons – the next three league opponents for Harlequins.
Before then, Quins return to the European Rugby Champions Cup with back-to-back matches against Ulster Rugby the first of which takes place a week today at The Stoop (kick-off 13:00). Limited tickets are still available and can be purchased by clicking here.