Marcus Smith shines as Harlequins hammer tame Saracens in London derby

Charles Richardson
The Telegraph
Danny Care scored the first try of the match with a creative, clockwork-like lineout move - PA
Danny Care scored the first try of the match with a creative, clockwork-like lineout move - PA


Marcus Smith and Chris Robshaw

Young fly-half Marcus Smith was imperious today, doing his England credentials no harm at all with a man-of-the-match display.

It was such a big game for us. We bigged it up through the week. Saracens are a brilliant team so we had to start fast and nullify their threats.

(On England snub) My focus is at Quins. We have big games coming up. I saw the England squad, but what will be will be.

Meanwhile, captain Chris Robshaw praised the form of his younger teammates, particularly Smith and the brutish Alex Dombrandt at No 8.

It's a huge derby for us. We knew they were missing players. It was a huge opportunity. The last two Premiership games, we haven't been at the races, but today was much-improved.

The young guys don't quite fit the puzzle that Eddie wants at the minute but, working with them weekly and daily, they will get there as they are really putting the work in. It was fantastic for them today.

It was a fantastic result at home. We have a semi-final next week which we are looking forward to greatly.

<span>Credit: PA </span>
Credit: PA


Full time: Harlequins 41 Saracens 14

Saracens' heaviest defeat for four years and it was entirely deserved.

Quins scored some coruscating tries in the first-half, but Saracens were as almost as damp as the boggy Stoop pitch that they were playing on.

Uncharacteristic of Saracens, but it has been a seismic week for them.

Harlequins, now, are up to fifth in an increasingly-dense Premiership table.


80 min: Harlequins 41 Saracens 14        

Saracens look for a consolation score as we enter the final minute. They launch from a lineout, releasing Obatoyinbo into some space but Quins win a turnover and that's that.


78 min: Harlequins 41 Saracens 14       

A horror 60 seconds for Obatoyinbo as he spills a kick under little pressure.

Quins hack downfield but are pinged for their alacrity, flying off their feet at the ruck. Looked harsh.

There's been some aggro, too - Luke Pearce has refused to chat to Jackson Wray after some off-the-ball stuff, and "will now only deal with" Vunipola. "You're now the captain", he says. Not sure about that, Luke...


TRY LANDAJO Harlequins 41 Saracens 14       

Out of nothing for the Argentinian scrum-half.

Smith grubbers down to Obatoyinbo and as he's being bundled into touch, he inexplicably flings the ball back in field.

There's no one there for Quins, however, and Landajo intercepts, charging to the line with glee.

Smith converts and it's now two points shy of Quins' highest-ever points total against Saracens.


74 min: Harlequins 34 Saracens 14      

Quins clear up to their own 10-metre line but Saracens come back. The visitors are well harried by Quins though, with Vunipola having no option but to put up a high bomb, which is lapped up by Morris at the back for Quins.

Lewies hacks down field as the ball comes loose, and all Saracens can do is shepherd it out for a lineout, with Ibitoye lurking.


71 min: Harlequins 34 Saracens 14     

Terrific work from Robshaw.

He slips through the Saracens maul barricades - the second time it's happened this afternoon for the visitors - and hold up the ball to win a scrum for his team.


69 min: Harlequins 34 Saracens 14    

Gallagher makes a piercing break from a Vunipola inside ball as Saracens continue to fight, but he's stopped emphatically by a bludgeoning Dombrandt shoulder.

Quins infringe at the breakdown, however, and Vunipola kicks to the corner.

Saracens lineout five metres out.


66 min: Harlequins 34 Saracens 14   

Quins' defence repels several Saracens charges, before Wigglesworth decides that boot is best. Saracens get the chase on as their scrum-half sends the ball skyward, but Care takes the ball in his 22 and calls a mark, falling over in the process.


63 min: Harlequins 34 Saracens 14  

Lewies is penalised for nudging Isiekwe in the air at the lineout, so Vunipola is able to give Saracens a lineout 10 metres out.

But Lewies makes amends, stealing the Saracens lineout. This area is becoming an issue for the visitors.


61 min: Harlequins 34 Saracens 14 

Saracens launch an attack, desperately trying to salvage something from this match but Vunipola's pass, intended for Morris, collides with Kpoku and the lock is caught totally by surprise. The ball ricochets off him and Quins will have the scrum just inside their own half.


PEN SMITH Harlequins 34 Saracens 14

An elementary shot at goal for Smith. No mistake.


57 min: Harlequins 31 Saracens 14

Smith does well to read a Vunipola kick, before replying in kind with a punt of his own down to the Saracens 22. Vunipola collects, but he's smothered by the Quins defence and turned over by a combination of Smith and Dombrandt.

Quins win a penalty in front of the posts and Smith will increase their lead to three.


CON VUNIPOLA Harlequins 31 Saracens 14

A beautiful strike that never looked like missing.


TRY MORRIS Harlequins 31 Saracens 12

Vunipola gives Saracens a lineout 10 metres out from the Quins line, which they just about manage to win.

They get stuck into the close-range stuff again, but the Quins defence initially holds firm. 10 phases takes them to within a metre, before a looping Vunipola pass to Morris sees him score in the corner.


52 min: Harlequins 31 Saracens 7 

Dombrandt's at it again - careering up the field after another failed Saracens lineout. But Saracens work well to turn the ball over, and win a penalty for a high tackle.

Quins have been marched back 10 metres; Chisholm gave Spencer a needless shove.


CON SMITH Harlequins 31 Saracens 7

A simple two points for Smith.


TRY LASIKE Harlequins 29 Saracens 7

Lasikegoes over from close range and it's five now for Quins!

The home side set up a well-organised maul, and Lasike strolls over under the posts from first phase. A lovely line but so soft from Saracens.


47 min: Harlequins 24 Saracens 7

Simple rugby from Quins. Lasike the lump gives them forward momentum from a scrum on halfway, before Smith puts a long kick down into the visitors' 22. Gallagher wants it to die, but it doesn't and Morris can bundle him into touch.


MISSED CON SMITH Harlequins 24 Saracens 7

Another tough one for Smith, but his team have a healthy lead regardless.


TRY IBITOYE Harlequins 24 Saracens 7      

Robshaw and Morris combine neatly down the left as they return a Saracens clearance, before Smith almost puts Dombrandt through a hole inside the Saracens half.

From the subsequent ruck, Care puts a searching kick down to the Saracens line and Gallagher slides to gather, but the ball squirts away from him allowing Ibitoye to collect and score.

Bonus point for Quins!


43 min: Harlequins 19 Saracens 7     

Ibitoye attempts a dancing counter-attack, before Care's pass to unleash his back division is blocked, so he turns to the boot.

There's a little too much on it, so Gallagher can touch down for a 22 drop-out.


Back out at the Stoop

Can Quins push on and claim a bonus-point win that would send them to fifth? Or will we see a Saracens resurgence.

Rain teeming now; puddles aplenty.


Marcus Smith's dummy for Quins' third try


Half-time: Harlequins 19 Saracens 7

Three tries for Quins - from Danny Care and Cadan Murley (2) in an impressive first-half display will put a smile on the face of Paul Gustard, but the manner of the scores is what will please him most; all three were sublime.

Saracens looked disinterested, inaccurate and bereft of ideas in the opening exchanges. They uncharacteristically lacked energy and oomph, too, but grew into the game as the half wore on. Alex Lozowski's finish, while clumsy to the eye, announced their arrival in the match. Until that point, they'd been mere spectators.


40 min: Harlequins 19 Saracens 7    

The rain has begun in south-west London, and Quins therefore decide that the tight route is the best one.

Their maul is steady and firm, but then a promising attack breaks down in midfield thanks to some shrewd defensive work by Hunter-Hill.


38 min: Harlequins 19 Saracens 7   

Referee Luke Pearce gives Wray and Clark a bit of a talking to - he looked distinctly unimpressed with some Saracens back chatter.

Quins clear through Smith after another Lasike burst.

After some kicking tennis, Ibitoye looks to counter, before Care finds space in behind Saracens, finding touch on the 22.


36 min: Harlequins 19 Saracens 7  

A fizzing pass from Vunipola beats the attempted interception from Ibitoye to send Lewington down the right.

He chips over towards the Quins line but Care sweeps back to save the day for Quins and clear off his left foot.

Quins still under pressure, however, as Saracens reignite their attack from the lineout, but the visitors knock on at the lineout.


34 min: Harlequins 19 Saracens 7 

Better defence and physicality from Saracens, but it comes after an embarrassingly disastrous lineout, with a panicky Singleton throwing into no one - no jumper got off the ground.

Harlequins are eventually pushed back by some strong Saracens defence. The visitors are growing into this game.


31 min: Harlequins 19 Saracens 7

Lasike really does take some stopping, and he gets Quins on the front foot again with a couple of weighty surges.

Dombrandt carries well again, too, as Quins make their way into the Saracens half.

Smith threads a grubber into touch towards the Saracens 22 - if that had stayed in the visitors would have been under pressure.


CON VUNIPOLA Harlequins 19 Saracens 7 

The simplest of conversions for Vunipola and Saracens seem to have woken up after an awful start.


TRY LOZOWSKI Harlequins 19 Saracens 5

Saracens get stuck into some close-range attacking as they lay siege to the Quins line. Kpoku, Barrington and Wray all prominent, with Quins giving away sundry penalties.

Eventually, however, the backs are given a go and Lozowski runs a hard line to bundle over under the sticks.


26 min: Harlequins 19 Saracens 0        

Saracens are flustered, as unstructured and inaccurate as I've seen them. Obviously they are technically playing for nothing other than pride, but this showing at the minute is uncharacteristically tame.

Some good news comes, however, as they win a scrum penalty following a Collier collapse.


CON SMITH Harlequins 19 Saracens 0       

Smith is getting some serious right-hand side kicking practice in here, with all three of his side's tries being scored in the same corner.

And he's successful with this attempt.


TRY MURLEY Harlequins 17 Saracens 0      

Take a bow Smith, that was delightful, and Murley is in again in the corner.

The Quins fly-half throws a massive dummy and streaks up the wing following a Saracens clearing kick. He sold about four Saracens players down the river, before he fed Lasike inside. Lasike finds Murley who goes over unopposed for his second


20 min: Harlequins 12 Saracens 0     

Smith dummies and shimmies through the Saracens defensive line, freeing his arms and offloading to - guess who - Dombrandt.

The No 8 streaks towards the Saracens 22 and chips a kick across to his following support, but Lewington outpaces Robshaw to clear up for the visitors.


17 min: Harlequins 12 Saracens 0    

Scrum penalty for Quins, who progress up to halfway from Smith's punt.

They unleash another crisp strike move, with Dombrandt putting Lasike into a hole up the middle.

Some pragmatism returns, however, as Care nudges a kick onto the Saracens five-metre line which bounces out for a lineout. Saracens' back three seem a bit off the pace.


14 min: Harlequins 12 Saracens 0   

Nothing sticking for Saracens at the minute, who are a little flat - both mentally and literally. A bit more depth and that recent failed strike move might have caused some problems, but Segun knocks on after a poor pass.


From our man at the Stoop


MISSED CON SMITH Harlequins 12 Saracens 0

Smith cannot add the extras from wide right but, regardless, what a start from the home side.


TRY MURLEY Harlequins 12 Saracens 0   

Murleygoes over in the corner following an 80-metre attack from Quins. Stunning.

Lasike punches a hole in midfield as Quins attack from deep. Dombrandt sends Ibitoye down the right flank, before smith finds Elia with a pinpoint cross-field kick. The Quins hooker offloads inside to Chisholm, before Murley gets on the end of a Chilsholm offload to finish in the right corner - that was as good a team try as you'll see this season.


9 min: Harlequins 7 Saracens 0  

Morris and Isiekwe give Saracens some directness, before Smith is penalised for straying offside. Vunipola nudges Saracens to within 10 metres of the Quins line.

Saracens set up the lineout maul but Dombrandt is at it again - he muscles his way through Saracens' maul set-up to turnover the visitors.


5 min: Harlequins 7 Saracens 0 

Hunter-Hill is caught offside at the lineout and Smith gives Quins a lineout inside the Saracens 22. But their maul organisation is sloppy; Symons is penalised for a block at the lineout and the opportunity is wasted.

Collier compounds the error by infringing at the next lineout, too. Back-to-back lineout penalties have lost Quins 60 metres.


CON SMITH Harlequins 7 Saracens 0

A punchy start for Quins.

Dombrandt was not picked in Eddie Jones' Six Nations squad and, on this form, that might be an error.


TRY CARE Harlequins 5 Saracens 0

Wow. Out of nowhere, Danny Care goes over straight from a lineout set-play.

Dombrandt breaks off the back of the lineout, finding Care with a nifty inside pass. Care streaks away, re-linking with Dombrandt, who carries dynamically up to the Saracens 22 before returning an offload out the back to Care, who sprints away to score after 75 seconds!


2 min: Harlequins 0 Saracens 0

Quins can't collect the restart, so Saracens look to immediately attack. Great work on the floor from Dombrandt as Harlequins clear.


The players are out...

Here we go!


Which Saracens players will leave?

Sarries' star men – including England internationals Owen Farrell, Maro Itoje, Jamie George, Mako and Billy Vunipola and Elliot Daly – are all set to stay at Allianz Park, but the futures of some of their team-mates are less clear. 

England caps Ben Spencer and Alex Lozowksi are both set to move on - most likely on loan - and Bath are keen on bringing the pair on board for the 2020-21 campaign.

Saracens back Liam Williams has already agreed a return to Wales with Scarlets for next season while England hopeful Ben Earl, George Kruis, Will Skelton and Nick Tompkins are all supposedly set for pastures new, either on loan or permanent deals. Tompkins - a surprise call-up for Wales’ Six Nations squad - is wanted by all four Welsh regions, while Kruis could be moving to Japan and Skelton returning to Australia.

Spencer is also reportedly wanted by Exeter and Lozowski by both Gloucester and Sale. Nick Isiekwe has been linked with Harlequins, Max Malins with Exeter, Matt Gallagher with Munster, Rhys Carre with Ospreys and Jack Singleton with Leicester.


Premiership table: As things stand


Saracens team news

Saracens show six changes in the pack, with only prop Vincent Koch and No 8 Jackson Wray remaining following last weekend's victory over Racing 92 that secured a Heineken Champions Cup quarter-final place.

Manu Vunipola and Richard Wigglesworth team up again at half-back, and Alex Lozowski returns to midfield duties.

The bench, meanwhile, includes academy pair Callum Hunter-Hill and Joel Kpoku, with Elliott Obatoyinbo poised for a possible Premiership debut.

Team details

Saracens: Gallagher, Lewington, Lozowski, Morris, Segun, M. Vunipola, Wigglesworth, Barrington, Singleton, Koch, Hunter-Hill, Kpoku, Isiekwe, Clark, Wray.
Replacements: Woolstencroft, Lamositele, Ibuanokpe, Christie, S. Reffell, Spencer, Watson, Obatoyinbo.


Harlequins team news

Chris Robshaw returns to captain Quins, while Matt Symons and Stephan Lewies forge the second-row combination and centre Paul Lasike is back after injury. 

Team details

Harlequins: Morris, Murley, Penny, Lasike, Ibitoye, Smith, Care, Garcia Botta, Elia, Collier, Lewies, Symons, J. Chisholm, Robshaw, Dombrandt.
Replacements: Musk, Auterac, Kerrod, Cavubati, Kunatani, Landajo, Herron, Goneva.


Harlequins vs Saracens preview: The road to relegation begins

Relegated Saracens begin a 14-game journey to the Championship when they tackle Harlequins today.

The reigning English and European champions' demise was confirmed by Premiership Rugby last weekend following non-compliance with the £7 million salary cap this season.

It came on the back of being docked 35 league points and fined £5.36m in November for salary cap breaches across the last three campaigns.

Lying 19 points adrift of 11th-placed Leicester, that is now an irrelevance, with clubs like the Tigers and Wasps, in 10th, knowing they are safe from being dragged into any relegation dogfight.

With Saracens down, it is likely to mean a surreal atmosphere at the Twickenham Stoop today, where Quins will continue jostling for a top-six place.

"As always, it will be a keenly-contested match," Quins head of rugby Paul Gustard said.

"We have great respect for Saracens as a rugby team and know we will have to be at our best to get the result we want.

"Both sides have equal numbers of players out due to injuries or internationals. We want to continue to develop our game and move on up.

"We've had another good week training in preparation for this match, and we are confident going into the game."

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