Saturday, 6th October 2018 @ 19:30
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Harlequins fell to defeat at the Stoop in a pulsating London derby against Saracens. Despite a try on his 250th Quins appearance from Danny Care and a brilliant score from Joe Marchant, it was Billy Vunipola’s late try that was the difference in a 20-25 victory for Saracens.
Quins attack coach Mark Mapletoft was left proud of his side’s efforts despite the result. He said: “I could not have been more proud of the defensive effort we put in. Playing one of the best teams in the competition, we were magnificent.”
In front of a passionate home crowd, Harlequins started the game well and their intensity was rewarded as Marcus Smith knocked over a penalty after seven minutes. The game was then halted following a nasty collision between Paul Lasike and Will Skelton and Quins’ American international was forced to leave the field with a head injury. After the game he was reported to be fine.
A great take under the high ball from David Strettle in the 17th minute gave Saracens field position from which they won a penalty and Owen Farrell kicked the visitors level from the 10m line.
The Quins defence stood firm against a huge amount of Saracens pressure and the visitors knocked on when close to the try line. Farrell did kick Saracens ahead on the half-hour but Harlequins levelled soon after following a scrum penalty.
It was fitting on a special night for him personally that Danny Care would score the opening try as he intercepted a pass and ran in from the halfway line, much to the delight of the South Stand. A third Farrell penalty with the final play of the half brought Saracens to within four points at the interval.
Harlequins’ defence started the second half where they ended the first half but eventually after five minutes of pressure, Saracens were awarded a penalty and Farrell’s fourth successful kick made it a one point game at 13-12.
An extraordianry moment then followed in the 54th minute as a Smith penalty attempt drifted wide of the right post, Joe Marchant charged in gathered the loose ball to score a try that the home support could quite believe.
Mapletoft was left equally stunned: “I’ve seen that happen once before. It is very unusual and it was a brilliant piece of skill from Joe. Having said that the plan was for Marcus’ kick to go over.”
Farrell had a chance to cut the lead immediately but his penalty from the 10m line hit the post. Quins lost a crucial line-out in their own 22 and Saracens were this time able to capitalise as Farrell cut the gap to five 5 points with 15 minutes to play.
After 69 minutes, the Quins defensive wall finally broke as good build up play sent Billy Vunipola over. Farrell’s touchline conversion gave the visitors the lead. Saracens turned the screw with a scrum penalty which Farrell knocked over for his 20th point of the evening. Quins had one final chance but the Saracens defence forced a turnover and a losing bonus point was all Quins had to show for their efforts.
Next up for Harlequins is Agen in the Challenge Cup on Saturday. Tickets are available to purchase online or by calling the Ticket Office on 020 8410 6010.