Aviva Premiership: Saracens record 39-17 victory over Harlequins at Wembley
Last Updated: 22/03/14 6:54pm
Saracens claimed an emphatic 39-17 bonus-point victory over London rivals Harlequins in front of a world record crowd at Wembley.
An attendance of 83,889 set a new record for a club match, but it was Sarries fans who were left cheering as their team ran in five tries with Quins, who rested their England contingent, lost ground in the race for a place in the Aviva Premiership play-offs.
Chris Robshaw, Danny Care and Mike Brown were given the weekend off following their involvement in the Six Nations and Quins desperately missed their three most influential players.
By contrast, Saracens started Owen Farrell and Mako Vunipola, both of whom featured against Italy last Saturday, and were handsomely rewarded with the former in superb form as he masterminded Quins' seventh defeat of the season behind a dominant pack, finishing with a try, three conversions and two penalties in an individual haul of 17 points.
Chris Ashton, George Kruis, Jacques Burger and Marcelo Bosch also ran in tries in a resounding victory that restores them to the summit of the Premiership table in the wake of Northampton's defeat at Sale.
Karl Dickson and Sam Smith crossed for Quins, who were spirited but outgunned in all departments and have only five matches left to force their way into play-off contention.
A brutal opening five minutes are sure to interest the citing officer with Nick Kennedy's uppercut on Steve Borthwick trumped by a dangerous tackle on David Strettle.
Strettle was struck by a swinging arm from Maurie Fa'asavalu and then hit his head on the Wembley turf, resulting in several minutes of treatment before being carried off on a stretcher.
A bright spell from Harlequins ended in calamity when Nick Easter shovelled on a poor pass that was picked off by Ashton - there was still a chance for Ugo Monye to prevent Ashton pulling clear but he slipped off the tackle and the England wing ran three-quarters of the pitch to score.
Quins were guilty of a more conspicuous defensive error in the 27th minute when Kennedy feebly rolled down the legs of Kruis and the lock cantered over unopposed. Fine build up play preceded the score, but the 2012 Premiership champions were picked apart far too easily.
Dickson, who scampered through a gap around the breakdown to dart over from close range, narrowed the gap only for his team to hit the self-destruct button once more on the stroke of half time.
Of all players it was Nick Evans, the composed veteran former All Black fly-half, who flung an unnecessary pass ten metres out from his own line that was picked off by Farrell for Saracens' third try.
Determined work from wing Smith, a late replacement for Tom Williams who was injured during the warm-up, enabled Quins to cross on the blindside early in the second half.
The visitors were enjoying their brightest spell of the match, aided by Borthwick being sin-binned for a line-out infringement, but once the Saracens skipper returned they cracked once again.
Hooker Schalk Brits darted free from a line-out and was hauled down several metres short of the whitewash, but Burger was on hand to gather his pass out of the tackle and touch down.
Quins' humiliation was completed in the 80th minute when their disintegrating defence allowed Bosch to skip in under the posts.
Fri 16th Oct
Harlequins0 - 0Wasps
Worcester0 - 0Northampton
Newcastle Falcons0 - 0Gloucester
Sat 17th Oct
Bath0 - 0Exeter
Saracens0 - 0Sale Sharks
Sun 18th Oct
London Irish0 - 0Leicester Tigers
Fri 23rd Oct
Gloucester0 - 0Saracens
Sale Sharks0 - 0Worcester
Sat 24th Oct
Northampton0 - 0Newcastle Falcons
Wasps0 - 0Bath
Exeter0 - 0London Irish
Sun 25th Oct
Leicester Tigers0 - 0Harlequins
Aviva Premiership 2013/14 Round 17
Leicester boss Richard Cockerill remains hopeful of holding on to winger Vereniki Goneva despite interest from France.
Leicester consolidated fourth place in the Aviva Premiership with a 45-15 thumping of Exeter at Welford Road on Sunday.
Neal Hatley was full of praise for fly-half George Ford after Bath's 44-23 away victory over London Irish.