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Aviva Premiership: Saracens comfortably see off Harlequins
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Saracens moved five points clear at the top of the Aviva Premiership after an impressive 27-12 victory over Harlequins at Allianz Park.
With the play-offs fast approaching and both sides almost certain to be involved, this was an important marker for Sarries as they bid to reclaim the title from their London rivals.
The champions were second best from the outset as Saracens claimed a surprisingly comfortable victory, with tries from Shalk Brits and Will Fraser and 17 points from the boot of Owen Farrell. Nick Evans kicked four penalties in reply for Quins.
Farrell and Evans exchanged a brace of early penalties apiece before an excellent break by Chris Ashton split the visiting defence and released flanker Fraser, who was denied a try by Mike Brown's cover tackle.
The combined efforts of the Quins defence prevented Fraser from recycling the ball at the cost of a yellow card for Joe Marler, whose absence cost his side 11 points in total.
Farrell landed the resulting penalty and kicked his fourth in the 23rd minute, before a slick five-man handling move opened up the depleted Quins defence and Brits spun and barged his way over for the game's first try, although Farrell missed the conversion.
Marler returned as the visitors were awarded a 30th-minute penalty, kicked by Evans after Sarries number eight Ernst Joubert offended at the breakdown, but both fly-halves missed kickable penalties in the closing minutes of the half.
Five minutes after the break Evans made amends for his earlier miss to cut the gap to five points after the back-pedalling Saracens scrum was penalised.
Saracens responded with Brown, Goode and Ashton combining to put Harlequins in trouble again. Playing the advantage after Quins failed to release Ashton, Farrell produced a superb cross-field kick into the arms of the unchallenged Fraser who touched down. Farrell converted to give Saracens a 24-12 lead.
Farrell missed a 58th-minute penalty shot but made no mistake 10 minutes later to stretch his side's lead to 15 points.
In the closing stages, Ashton looked fortunate to escape with only a yellow card for a high tackle on Harlequins' replacement flanker Maurie Fa'asavalu after referee Greg Garner asked the television match official to review the incident.
Harlequins tried desperately to make their one-man advantage pay but Saracens kept them out with disciplined and determined defence.
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|Sunday 30th November|
|Newcastle Falcons 13 - 18 Sale Sharks|
|London Welsh 14 - 43 Northampton|
|London Irish 9 - 21 Gloucester|
|Saturday 29th November|
|Exeter 27 - 19 Saracens|
|Leicester Tigers 18 - 16 Wasps|
|Friday 28th November|
|Bath 25 - 6 Harlequins|
|Sunday 23rd November|
|London Welsh 5 - 26 Leicester Tigers|
|Saracens 24 - 31 Northampton|
|Saturday 22nd November|
|London Irish 23 - 33 Bath|
|Exeter 31 - 15 Wasps|
|Friday 21st November|
|Newcastle Falcons 20 - 10 Gloucester|
|Harlequins 12 - 16 Sale Sharks|
|Sunday 16th November|
|Wasps 71 - 7 London Welsh|
|Leicester Tigers 21 - 21 Saracens|
|Saturday 15th November|
|Bath 23 - 14 Newcastle Falcons|
|Sale Sharks 36 - 8 London Irish|
|Friday 14th November|
|Gloucester 15 - 22 Harlequins|
|Northampton 18 - 24 Exeter|
Read the thoughts and opinions of Phil Edwards with skysports.com