Saturday, 16th April 2016 @ 18:00
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Harlequins top four hopes are now most likely only mathematical as they fell 22-12 to Saracens at Wembley Stadium.
After back-to-back wins across two competitions Harlequins were looking to beat fellow Londoners Saracens to keep their Aviva Premiership playoff hopes alive.
Saracens would get the upper hand in the opening spell after a George Kruis try was bookended by a Chris Ashton brace. The visitors having to settle for three penalties and a 19-9 deficit at the break.
Ben Botica would close the gap early in the second half but a late penalty from Owen Ferrell would be the only other scoring play of a largely uneventful derby.
Conor O’Shea’s men will now be in a fight for the top six, and European Rugby Champions Cup qualification, as their top four hopes have all but passed them by.
Earlier in the day Harlequins arrived at the Home of Football knowing they had only come out on top here once in four attempts.
In the fifth minute they took an early three point lead thanks to a dominant scrum –one that would repeatedly come out on top the entire match.
After a sustained period of attack Saracens were finally rewarded as they exploited numbers on the outside for Chris Ashton to go over in the corner.
Botica would slot home another penalty as Harlequins retook the lead 5-6 in the 17th minute but it was a frustrating opening spell.
Mistakes and penalties were costing both sides and while Harlequins dominated the set piece, Saracens were well on top in both possession and territory. This was never more evident than on the half hour mark.
Sarries would turn down a penalty attempt to go for the corner, Quins would win the lineout but camped out on his own line Danny Care was stripped of the ball by Kruis who dived over to score.
This time Charlie Hodsgon was successful with his conversion and gave his side a 12-6 lead, one they would not relinquish.
Botica would close the gap to three points, but Ashton would soon cross for his brace following a scintillating run from hooker Schalk Britz who carved up the defence from long range.
Hodgson’s conversion would end the half as the home side were on top 19-9.
Botica kicked an early penalty to close the gap to 19-12 early but the remaining 35 minutes of rugby were considerably flat as neither side could build any momentum. Harlequins continuously struggled to get out of their own half as poor kicking and numerous mistakes provided Saracens with plenty of territory.
Sarcens though were also guilty of mistakes and it would keep the second half to a low scoring one as Quins would win penalty after penalty at the scrum and breakdown but none would result in a yellow card.
Ross Chisholm went close before the hour mark and Marland Yarde and Mike Brown would both make crowd-pleasing breaks late in the contest, but Quins never looked like scoring the match leveling try.
In the 73rd minute Owen Farrell entered the field as replacement and kick his side to a ten-point lead.
Before the full time whistle Botica had one last chance to salvage a losing bonus point with a long range kick but it fell just short ending the contest at 22-12.
Harlequins now have six days to put the match behind them before a crucial semi-final showdown against Grenoble in the European Rugby Challenge Cup. The side will know this is a great opportunity to not only win silverware but also secure passage into the top tier of European rugby next season.
Tickets for the semi-final taking place Friday 22nd April (kick off 19:45) are on sale now and start from just £14. Click here to buy now.