Fixtures - Top Bar

Match Reaction: Harlequins 29 Saracens 23

Conor O’Shea is relishing the determination his side are showing at the moment after a gritty comeback saw Harlequins inflict a first defeat of the season on 14-man Saracens.

The hosts, who are now unbeaten in four league matches, somehow found themselves ahead at the interval when Rob Buchanan and Jack Clifford cancelled out Neil de Kock and Billy Vunipola's efforts, despite Sarries dominating the opening stages.

Owen Farrell put the visitors back into the lead from the tee, but after replacement Rhys Gill saw red for a dangerous tackle on George Lowe the tables were turned and three Ben Botica penalties and James Horwill’s late try clinched a 29-23 win.

It was a first defeat in 15 games for Saracens and only Quins’ second victory in their last 15 matches against the league leaders, and O’Shea put it down to a battling performance.

“What a game of rugby that was,” he said. “It’s what the Aviva Premiership Rugby is all about; the Stoop was rocking.

“It’s only game nine but I just love the bite that was out there tonight. We said we wanted to be physical, but we were also enterprising.

“Obviously the huge turning point in terms of giving us the absolute foothold was Rhys’ sending off, but don’t think you can argue with that.

“I’m thankful that George Lowe wasn’t injured because we all know what he has gone through the last two to three years, but otherwise it was a great game of rugby between two teams who will be fighting hopefully towards the end of the year.

“Hopefully it gives Nick Easter a little lift because he’s had some personal problems of late, and he sent out a text saying we could win before the game, which means a lot to the players.”

Meanwhile, Saracens director of rugby Mark McCall admitted his below-par Saracens side were not worthy of victory at the Stoop.

The visitors will stay top of the Aviva Premiership despite the loss, but both Quins and Exeter Chiefs closed the gap at the top of the table with their victories, and McCall is calling on his side to show some resolve after their first setback of the season.

He said: “I thought our set-piece dominated the first 20 minutes or so, but we gave away an unbelievably soft try. That was just a switch off moment by one person in the lineout that went on for five points.

“But just in general I don’t think we deserved to win. I think our discipline was not good enough and I think they won the scraps.

“They were really up for it and with all those fifty-fifty battles which we are pretty good at usually, we weren’t so good at today.

“So it’s disappointing to lose because for those reasons but we have to move on. This group in the past has shown it is pretty good at dealing with the odd set back here and there.

“We have a pretty big game to get our teeth into against Ulster and we can’t feel sorry ourselves, get stuck into the week and that’s all.”
Harlequins 29 Saracens 23
Harlequins: Brown, Yarde, Lowe, Roberts, Chisholm, Evans (Botica 53), Care, Marler, Buchanan (Ward 62), Jones, Horwill, Matthews, Robshaw, Wallace, Clifford
Replacements not used: Adeniran-Olule, Gray, Sloan, Dickson, Walker
Saracens: Goode, Ashton, Bosch (Hodgson 75), Taylor (Tompkins 27), Ellery, Farrell, de Kock (Wigglesworth 51), M Vunipola (Gill 62), George, Du Plessis (Lamositele 75), Hamilton, Kruis (Itoje 2), Wray, Fraser (Burger 54), B Vunipola
Replacements not used: Saunders
Tries: Buchanan, Clifford, Horwill
Conversions: Evans
Penalties: Evans, Botica 3
Tries: de Kock, B Vunipola
Conversions: Farrell
Penalties: Farrell 3
Referee: Craig Maxwell-Keys
Attendance: 14,800

Boxing Day Sale! Click here to grab a bargain with 20% off tickets to the Aviva Premiership Rugby Final on 28 May at Twickenham.

Latest News

AUDIO: Preview of this weekend’s Aviva Premiership action

It's the penultimate round of regular-season matches in the Aviva Premiership this weekend - Russell Hargreaves has the details.

Saracens name side to face Bristol Rugby

Saracens have named their team to face Bristol in round 21 of the Aviva Premiership on Saturday at Allianz Park,…

Schalk Brits

Northampton Saints team news versus Exeter Chiefs

The Northampton Saints team has been named for the Aviva Premiership Round 21 trip to Exeter. Injuries to Louis Picamoles…

JJ Hanrahan

Garvey to start for Bath Rugby in West Country derby

Matt Garvey will make his first start for Bath Rugby since January in the West Country Aviva Premiership derby against…

Matt Garvey

Gloucester Rugby make just one change for trip to Bath

Gloucester Rugby keep faith with the majority of the side that triumphed in La Rochelle last weekend, making just one…

Mariano Galarza

Exeter Chiefs side to face Northampton Saints

Rob Baxter says it’s vital his Exeter Chiefs grasp every opportunity afforded to them as they look to maintain their…

Gareth Steenson

Leicester Tigers team news for final home game

Graham Kitchener and Adam Thompstone will make their 100th starting appearances in a Leicester Tigers shirt in the final home…

Adam Thompstone

Team News for Bristol Rugby to face Saracens

Olly Robinson returns to the starting line-up as Bristol Rugby face reigning Premiership champions Saracens on Saturday (3pm KO). The…

Olly Robinson

Four Changes For Sharks Ahead of Tigers Clash

Sale Sharks have named their side to take on Leicester Tigers this Saturday at Welford Road in the Aviva Premiership…

Josh Charnley

Callum Chick not given up on top-six finish for Newcastle Falcons

Promising Newcastle Falcons flanker Callum Chick hasn't given up on helping his side qualify for a Champions Cup place next…

Jack Singleton still buzzing after baptism of fire at Worcester Warriors

Jack Singleton admits he never expected to get as much Aviva Premiership Rugby game time as he has had this…

Saracens sign Wales international lock Dominic Day

Saracens have completed the signing of Wales international lock forward Dominic Day for the for the upcoming 2017/18 season. 31-year…

Dominic Day

Tom Heathcote extends his stay at Worcester Warriors

Worcester Warriors are delighted to announce that Scotland international Tom Heathcote has put pen to paper on a new contract…

Tom Heathcote

Minimum standards criteria results

The Rugby Football Union (RFU) has considered the findings of an independent audit report of the Greene King IPA Championship…

World Rugby welcomes Berlin Consensus Statement on concussion in sport

Expert group publishes comprehensive review of scientific papers on concussion Rugby continues to be aligned with recommended best practice Cross-sport…

Mark Lambert issues rallying call for Harlequins’ top-six push

A third season in a row without top flight European rugby is not an option for a club of Harlequins’…

Gloucester’s Henry Trinder: Top-six place at stake adds to West Country derby

Gloucester will be travelling to The Rec for their West Country derby against Bath in the Aviva Premiership on Sunday…

Henry Trinder

Referee appointments: Barnes, Garner and Doyle all in action

Three of Aviva Premiership Rugby’s most experienced referees will take to the field this weekend as another highly-charged round of…

The Premiership Rugby Final Photographic competition

To mark exactly one month to go to the 15th Premiership Rugby Final, on 27 May, Premiership Rugby are holding a…

Owen Farrell