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Saracens' dream of a double is alive

Sat, 17 May 2014 16:50
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Saracens will take on Northampton Saints in the Premiership Final after a ruthless second-half performance saw them overpower Harlequins 31-17 at Allianz Park.

Tries from Kelly Brown, Brad Barritt and Chris Ashton pulled the hosts clear after a spirited first-half showing from Harlequins saw the visitors lead 17-11 at half-time.

The result ends Quins' remarkable winning run that carried them into the play-offs, leaving them to rue their inability to exploit two first half yellow cards for Saracens.

But the hosts' potent attack scored 20 unanswered second-half points to set up an appetising clash with Saints in the final at Twickenham on May 31.

Harlequins exploited their early territory as flyhalf Nick Evans impressively landed a penalty attempt from more than 40 metres out.

Saracens quickly responded in kind with the visitors penalised for not releasing and England flyhalf Owen Farrell coolly bisected the posts.

On 15 minutes Farrell hit the post with another kickable chance but made amends minutes later after Quins were caught not rolling away.

Saracens' hits became increasingly brutal and referee Wayne Barnes duly showed centre Marcelo Bosch for a spear tackle on Evans in the 24th minute.

Evans pushed the resulting penalty wide but his side received another boost five minutes later with Saracens prop Matt Stevens sent to the bin for a deliberate knock-on.

Quins soon made their numerical advantage tell as a looping pass out to winger Ugo Monye put him over and Evans duly added the extras.

Despite still being down to 13 men, the hosts rallied to put flanker Kelly Brown over in the corner in the 36th minute but Farrell missed the conversion.

Quins kicked ahead a loose ball on the stroke of half-time with Mike Brown winning the foot race to touch down and Evans adding the conversion to make it 17-11 at the break.

The hosts got the fast start they required after half-time but the miscuing Farrell slid another penalty chance wide in the early moments.

Alternate kicker Bosch lined up for the next long penalty attempt but Farrell's inaccuracy was infectious and Harlequins remained six points ahead.

But Saracens regained the lead in the 53rd minute as they opted for touch in the Quins 22 from a penalty and relentless pressure saw centre Barritt force his way over.

Farrell found his kicking form to land the conversion before extending his side's lead to 21-17 with a long penalty minutes later.

Saracens' maintained the assault on their opponents to put Bosch under the posts before the try was ruled out for offside.

Yet just after the hour Saracens carved up Quins once again as Kelly Brown and Barritt combined with neat offloads to send Ashton clear to splash over the line and Farrell added the two points.

Saracens were comfortable enough to give captain Steve Borthwick a standing ovation as he departed following his last home game for the club.

A Quins side in disarray had no opportunity to reply before Farrell's late penalty put a gloss on the result.

The scorers:

For Saracens:
Tries:
Brown, Barritt, Ashton
Cons: Farrell 2
Pens: Farrell 4

For Harlequins:
Tries:
Monye, Brown
Cons: Evans 2
Pen: Evans

Yellow cards: Marcelo Bosch (Saracens, 24 - foul play, spear tackle), Matt Stevens (Saracens, 29 - professional foul, deliberate slap down)

Teams:

Saracens: 15 Alex Goode, 14 Chris Ashton, 13 Marcelo Bosch, 12 Brad Barritt, 11 David Strettle, 10 Owen Farrell, 9 Neil de Kock, 8 Billy Vunipola, 7 Jacques Burger, 6 Kelly Brown, 5 Mouritz Botha, 4 Steve Borthwick (captain), 3 Matt Stevens, 2 Schalk Brits, 1 Mako Vunipola.
Replacements: 16 Jamie George, 17 Richard Barrington, 18 James Johnston, 19 Alistair Hargreaves, 20 Jackson Wray, 21 Richard Wigglesworth, 22 Charlie Hodgson, 23 Chris

Harlequins: 15 Mike Brown, 14 Tom Williams, 13 Tim Molenaar, 12 Jordan Turner-Hall, 11 Ugo Monye, 10 Nick Evans, 9 Danny Care, 8 Nick Easter, 7 Chris Robshaw (captain), 6 Luke Wallace, 5 George Robson, 4 Charlie Matthews, 3 Kyle Sinckler, 2 Dave Ward, 1 Joe Marler.
Replacements: 16 Rob Buchanan, 17 Mark Lambert, 18 Will Collier, 19 Nick Kennedy, 20 Tom Guest, 21 Karl Dickson, 22 Ben Botica, 23 Sam Smith.

Referee: Wayne Barnes
Assistant referees: Robin Goodliffe, Roy Maybank
TMO: Graham Hughes

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