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Aviva Premiership: Saracens comfortably see off Harlequins
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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|Friday 6th March|
|19:45||Bath vs Sale Sharks|
|Saturday 7th March|
|15:00||Exeter vs London Welsh|
|15:00||Harlequins vs London Irish|
|15:15||Gloucester vs Northampton|
|Sunday 8th March|
|14:00||Wasps vs Saracens|
|15:00||Newcastle Falcons vs Leicester Tigers|
|Friday 27th March|
|19:45||Northampton vs Wasps|
|Saturday 28th March|
|15:00||London Irish vs Newcastle|
|15:00||Leicester vs Exeter|
|15:15||Saracens vs Harlequins|
|Sunday 29th March|
|14:00||Sale vs Gloucester|
|14:30||London Welsh vs Bath|
|Friday 10th April|
|19:45||Newcastle vs Bath|
|Saturday 11th April|
|15:00||Harlequins vs Gloucester|
|15:15||Saracens vs Leicester|
|Sunday 12th April|
|14:00||Exeter vs Northampton|
|14:30||London Welsh vs Wasps|
|15:00||London Irish vs Sale|
|Saturday 25th April|
|14:00||Sale vs Harlequins|
|15:00||Gloucester vs Newcastle|
|15:00||Bath vs London Irish|
|15:00||Northampton vs Saracens|
|15:00||Leicester vs London Welsh|
|Sunday 26th April|
|14:00||Wasps vs Exeter|
|Saturday 9th May|
|14:00||Sale vs Newcastle|
|Sunday 1st March|
|Wasps 32 - 21 Gloucester|
|Saturday 28th February|
|Exeter 16 - 6 Bath|
|Saracens 22 - 17 Newcastle Falcons|
|Leicester Tigers 28 - 8 Sale Sharks|
|London Welsh 12 - 50 London Irish|
|Friday 27th February|
|Northampton 17 - 13 Harlequins|
|Sunday 22nd February|
|London Irish 6 - 12 Leicester Tigers|
|Saturday 21st February|
|Bath 13 - 21 Northampton|
|Harlequins 21 - 32 Exeter|
|Gloucester 48 - 10 London Welsh|
|Sale Sharks 14 - 10 Saracens|
|Friday 20th February|
|Newcastle 23 - 23 Wasps|
|Sunday 15th February|
|Wasps 37 - 6 Harlequins|
|London Welsh 12 - 52 Sale|
|Saracens 34 - 24 Bath|
|Saturday 14th February|
|Exeter 46 - 17 Newcastle|
|Friday 13th February|
|Leicester 18 - 15 Gloucester|
|Northampton 15 - 9 London Irish|
Read the thoughts and opinions of Phil Edwards with skysports.com