Saracens teach Harlequins lesson in London derby thrashing to deliver emphatic message

Six scores: Harlequins' defence was manhandled by Saracens at The Stoop (PA)
Six scores: Harlequins' defence was manhandled by Saracens at The Stoop (PA)

Champions Saracens took Premiership hopefuls Harlequins to school by dishing out six of the best to their London rivals.

Quins headed into the weekend top of the embryonic table, but that only fired up Sarries even more to make their emphatic point at The Stoop.

Juan Martin Gonzalez, Ollie Hartley, Jamie George, Andy Christie, Tom Parton and Alex Lewington all crossed for tries as Saracens claimed a dominant 38-10 victory.

Sarries delivered a gritty early dismantling of Quins’ title aspirations, as the 2023 league winners flexed their domestic muscles once again.

Saracens leapt up to third in the table with their fourth win in a row, while Quins dropped all the way down to fourth.

Andre Esterhuizen ran in a late consolation for Quins, but there will be little solace for Billy Millard’s men, who were bested in every facet of the game.

Saracens were forced into a string of reshuffles before the clash had hardly even kicked off. First Elliot Daly suffered a hamstring issue in the warm-up, then Ben Earl picked up a knee problem.

Alex Lozowski then hobbled out in the opening exchanges, after falling awkwardly in a tackle. Harlequins drew first blood with Marcus Smith slotting his second penalty, after the first struck the right post.

Owen Farrell led Sarries to a convincing victory in the first London derby of the season (Getty Images)
Owen Farrell led Sarries to a convincing victory in the first London derby of the season (Getty Images)

Sarries hit back with little delay however, Gonzalez capping a driven maul with a try and Owen Farrell converting.

That opening try closed out a scrappy first quarter where loose errors stymied promising attacks for both teams.

Smith then paid a heavy price for another mistake, misjudging the strength of wind behind him and sending the ball dead from a high bomb.

The visitors raced straight onto the attack, and Hartley finished in style on the right flank after considered build-up.

George ploughed over for Sarries’ third score ahead of half-time, with Farrell converting for a 19-3 lead.

Quins’ promising start gave way to a curiously underwhelming showing, with Saracens allowed to dictate the terms for large swathes of the first period.

The hosts returned after the interval with renewed aims at reversing the momentum, only for Saracens to strike again.

Christie capped another driven penalty lineout, with the fourth and bonus-point try in the bag just three minutes into the second half.

Quins finally found something approaching their stride, unsurprisingly after finally sending Esterhuizen up to and over the gain line.

But Sarries fended off the best part of 10 minutes defending in their own 22, before breaking the length of the field.

Hartley thought he had scored his second try of the night, after Gonzalez ran down a lost cause and sent him home.

The score was chalked off after video review, but the momentum had certainly shifted.

And just three minutes later Parton raced into the left corner from Alex Goode’s fine scoring pass.

Goode turned provider again for Saracens’ sixth score, the full-back delivering an imperious grubber that Lewington zipped in to dot down in the corner.

Farrell’s conversion stretched the visitors’ lead to 35 points, as Quins again failed to land a glove on the reigning champions.

A bruising defeat by their biggest rivals drops Harlequins down to fourth in the early Premiership standings (PA)
A bruising defeat by their biggest rivals drops Harlequins down to fourth in the early Premiership standings (PA)

Quins lock James Chisholm was then sin-binned for a high tackle on Theo Dan, with Sarries’ replacement hooker sent for a HIA.

Esterhuizen powered into the corner as Quins at least registered a try of their own.

Saracens could easily have had a seventh score at the death however, had replacement Tom Willis not dropped the ball over the line.

Farrell dragged a snap drop-goal effort wide to close out the encounter, on a night where Sarries produced the kind of win and performance they love best – one laced with ominous portents for all their rivals.