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CRISIS?! WHAT CRISIS?! Harlequins 17-10 Saracens

By South Stand Quin
September 27 2016

Harlequins came alive with a display of pride, passion and sheer bloody-mindedness to deservedly overcome European and English champions Saracens at The Stoop.

Whilst some may say the performance was the perfect riposte to the criticism of the team’s less than promising start to the season; the truth is that Saturday’s showing demonstrated what we all knew – and indeed what was all frustrating us so much – Quins are a team of undoubted potential. They just need to play to this potential far more consistently!

Saracens went into the game on the back of thirteen successive wins – indeed, they hadn’t lost since a 21-13 loss at Leicester on 20th March. Pre-match, all the talk was of Quins’ desperately disappointing start to the campaign. There was real frustration about how a team with so many experienced players and internationals should be finding it so difficult to string a performance together, along with a line-out that seemed to capitulate at regular intervals. However, there was one voice, who events later that afternoon would prove to be a wise old sage, who made the pertinent point that, so far Quins had not played a single home game (let’s face it, Bristol was NOT a home match!) and would be inspired by a jam-packed Stoop rocking with loud support.

Quins went into the game forced to make a late change as Marland Yarde withdrew due to a throat infection, and was replaced by Charlie Walker. Just over ten seconds into the game, they lost another key player as Joe Marler was knocked out in a collision with Mako Vunipola and left the field, never to return after the initial head injury assessment. Losing such an integral component of the pack did not bode well. Yet this proved to merely be the first of many examples throughout the afternoon that showed how Quins would simply not be fazed by anything and would hit back in style. Within two minutes of Marler’s departure, Tim Swiel kicked the home side ahead with a penalty after Walker had stamped his early impact on the game in the build-up. 

2017 Harlequins vs Saracens Joe Marler goes off with an injury during the Aviva Premiership match at Twickenham Stoop

Within sixty seconds, things got even better for Quins. Tim Visser stuck out a telescopic arm and grabbed Alex Lozowski’s attempted pass and, with acres of green space in front of him, sprinted home for the game’s first try. Swiel added the extras, and after just 4 minutes, Quins were 10-0 up. Harlequins pack was immense in the early stages, perhaps the fruits of Graham Rowntree’s labours finally coming good. It was the work of the forwards who forced four penalties back to back in the Saracens ‘22’, three of which were kicked to the corner.  Referee Craig Maxwell-Keys gave an early warning about what may happen if such concessions continued. From the next attack, Maxwell-Keys shouted for another advantage, this time for offside, and Quins made the most of it as Swiel’s pass found Brown, who fed Walker on the over-lap and the winger was over to score. It became 17-0 thanks to Swiel adding the extras with 19 minutes played.

2017 Harlequins vs Saracens Chris Robshaw and Saracens Jim Hamilton during the Aviva Premiership match at Twickenham

The remainder of the first half saw the other side of Quins game come to the fore – heroic defence – particularly pleasing after the reported issues with this part of their game at Sandy Park last weekend. Some Saracens were convinced they had scored on 27 minutes when Mike Brown hesitated over Richard Wigglesworth’s kick through, waiting for it to go dead, but it became apparent that it would have to be dealt with – he managed to ground the ball, but not quick enough for Maxwell-Keys’ eyesight as the official could not differentiate between Brown’s touch and that of the Saracens scrum-half. And so the matter was referred to TMO David Grashoff, with the question being “Try – Yes or No?” Grashoff saw that Brown grounded the ball and a scrum five was called. There then followed a quite incredible intensity of pressure on the Quins line as scrum after scrum, mostly within ten metres of the line followed. The pack, but also some seriously bloody-minded try-line defence crucially kept Saracens at bay. Chris Robshaw, Jamie Roberts and the outstanding James Horwill led the troops heroically. During this point it is also pointing out the role of James Chisholm as well. They did an outstanding job on the Vunipola brothers and Maro Itoje who were far from their best as a result. The roar when Mako Vunipola knocked on to end the spell of pressure was almost louder than for any of the points Quins scored during the game. They’d got through this tough passage of play. And how. Half-time came with Harlequins 17-0 up.

2017 Harlequins vs Saracens  quinssarries1.jpg

Quins ability to keep Saracens at bay for that period, ultimately was the game-decider. Yet, if it is one thing no-one wanted was an early Saracens second half score. And that happened within two minutes of the re-start. Mark Ellery made an impressive amount of ground before feeding Wigglesworth who dived over. Lozowski converted, and it was now back to 17-7. Many thoughts turned to an uncomfortable final half hour or so with Saracens seemingly likely to make a typical comeback to banish Quins’ stunning first half achievements. However, those thoughts reckoned without the strong backbone and sense of determination that was coursing through the men in the quartered shirts on the day. They recovered from the setback of Wigglesworth’s try and that of Danny Care limping off with a hip injury. Indeed, Harlequins didn’t just recover, they stepped it up in terms of intensity and physicality and, roared on by an ever louder Stoop, Quins made it over the line, conceding just a further three points from a Spencer penalty near the end, despite being also down to fourteen men after James Horwill was sin-binned.

2017 Harlequins vs Saracens quinssarries2.jpg

This was a massive statement of intent from the players – the pride in the shirt and determination to win this game no matter what was highly impressive. Whilst one swallow does not make a summer, and Quins next travel to a Wasps side who are scoring tries for fun, this was a massive win. The performance and response was everything.

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CRISIS?! WHAT CRISIS?! Harlequins 17-10 Saracens (IP Logged)
27/09/2016 12:38
What do you think? You can have your say by posting below.
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Re: CRISIS?! WHAT CRISIS?! Harlequins 17-10 Saracens
Almost quin (IP Logged)
27/09/2016 13:16
Thanks for that. It was a great game and atmosphere at the Stoop on sat. I hope this us a springboard for our season I don't expect us to get anything from Wasks but if we. Perform like that tthen who knows. The game V Saints the following week is going to be very interesting especially as I expect they loose to Chiefs this weekend

Re: CRISIS?! WHAT CRISIS?! Harlequins 17-10 Saracens
gregory p (IP Logged)
27/09/2016 13:31
Good report, thanks.

Re: CRISIS?! WHAT CRISIS?! Harlequins 17-10 Saracens
InsertQuinsPunHere (IP Logged)
27/09/2016 13:43
Great read. Thank you

Re: CRISIS?! WHAT CRISIS?! Harlequins 17-10 Saracens
Monte (IP Logged)
27/09/2016 17:18
Many thanks excellent report of great match!

Re: CRISIS?! WHAT CRISIS?! Harlequins 17-10 Saracens
South Stand Quin (IP Logged)
27/09/2016 17:21
Thanks all - was my first attempt at doing it for the message board, so glad it's been received well!

Re: CRISIS?! WHAT CRISIS?! Harlequins 17-10 Saracens
DOK (IP Logged)
27/09/2016 18:04
It was very good - thank you for doing it. So anyone else fancy doing this, just let me know the match under the "Match Reporters" thread

Re: CRISIS?! WHAT CRISIS?! Harlequins 17-10 Saracens
poorfour (IP Logged)
27/09/2016 18:06
Good job SSQ

Re: CRISIS?! WHAT CRISIS?! Harlequins 17-10 Saracens
Mayor West (IP Logged)
27/09/2016 21:51
Thanks SSQ I can't relive that game enough.

Re: CRISIS?! WHAT CRISIS?! Harlequins 17-10 Saracens
NicoWilson (IP Logged)
28/09/2016 13:38
Nice read. Thank you.

Re: CRISIS?! WHAT CRISIS?! Harlequins 17-10 Saracens
ChipsteadQuin (IP Logged)
28/09/2016 14:11
Great report SSQ thanks very much..

Re: CRISIS?! WHAT CRISIS?! Harlequins 17-10 Saracens
Harley Quin (IP Logged)
28/09/2016 15:51
Great read, thank you. :-)

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