Dominate display seals top-two Premiership finish for Sarries

Dominate display seals top-two Premiership finish for Sarries

Bragging rights: Sean Maitland runs past Joe Marler to score Sarries’ fourth try (Getty Images)

Saracens’ greatest strength remains their inevitability.

The Men In Black were always going to win this game and seal a top-two Gallagher Premiership finish – the 36-24 score merely completed the formalities. Sarries set up a home semi-final with three league games to play thanks to a sizeable 11-point advantage at the top of the table.

Harlequins fought back from the brink on a number of occasions, but never enough to complicate the outcome. Technically this win was five tries to four, but Saracens ended up being far more value than that.

Saracens’ only worry on a brisk day’s business in front of a 55,000 crowd at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium was an ankle injury to Owen Farrell. The England captain awkwardly hobbled away but only smiled as he froze the problem joint on the subs’ bench.

No wonder Farrell was able to shake off the backlash. Any notion of a big Farrell-Marcus Smith dominance battle evaporated on the hosts’ overall dominance. Smith was left to try to conjure hook kick and goose step magic. Never a good sign, except of course for those in the Saracens defensive line.

Alex Lozowski, Nick Tompkins, Andy Christie, Sean Maitland and Maro Itoje claimed the scores for Sarries in another display of power that could only be described as ominous for their opponents. Cadan Murley got a brace thanks in no small part to twice beating Max Malins, while Alex Dombrandt and Joe Marchant also crossed for Quins.

The west Londoners were still well beaten in truth, and barring a late rally their play-off tilt is surely at an end.

(Getty Images)

Saracens were in control at half-time. Dombrandt swooped in for an early Quins score, but the west Londoners couldn’t sustain that pace.

Lozowski moved in after a neat Farrell pop to clinch two penalty line stands. Tompkins followed just six minutes later, with Quins only two phases away.

Alex Goode’s grubber made it 50-22 and the home men quickly converted this platform into their second try.

Danny Care’s yellow card for a professional foul left Quins in deep trouble, but Matson’s men only missed Farrell’s penalty in that 10-minute game with a man down.

Smith offered a reasonable innings at scrumhalf, but he himself would no doubt admit that he wished for quicker service in the 10 channel.

Christie headed in at the corner to give Sarries the final say on a hectic half, Mako Vunipola scooped up a ball and fed Goode to keep the move alive. Goode’s quick take and give created the extra man, before Christie added a neat finish.

Harlequins needed to score first after the break to keep the contest alive, and Murley produced a superb effort from Smith’s bullet pass.

Quins couldn’t live with Saracens’ collapse though, and Maitland grabbed the bonus point try thanks to Malins’ cute grubber and Christie’s astute inside ball.

However, the west London men refused to give in, and Murley powered right over Malins for his second try.

Quins owed their own final downfall to Northmore’s highly unnecessary yellow card. The outside center clothesline Farrell after a botched lay-off, with the ball long gone. Northmore were relieved to avoid a red card, but Saracens immediately preyed on Quins’ reduced numbers.

Itoje slotted in after a scrum, less than a minute into the penalty box, with Farrell putting on the extras.

Nick David’s half-field break should have brought Quins a try, only for the full-back to pounce to try and ground the ball under Malins’ tackle.

Christie was sin-binned at the death, allowing Care to splash on the wing for Marchant to finish well. Farrell then hobbled away, before Alex Goode missed a late penalty.

Bigger days await Saracens in the next few weeks, but all evidence points to a squad fully prepared to thrive.

Originally published March 25, 2023, 6:17 p.m

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