Saracens fly-half Owen Farrell showed his early-season kicking jitters are behind him with a consummate performance from the tee, scoring all of his side’s points to condemn Harlequins to their first Aviva Premeirship defeat this season.
While Farrell flourished at the Stoop hitting six from six, his opposite number Nick Evans showed cracks in his game only converting four of his eight goal kicks.
Two weeks ago Farrell missed four of his five kicks at goal against Leicester Tigers at Wembley, and was hauled off for Charlie Hodgson.
But his perfect form did for Quins, who on top of Evans’ 11 points scored a try through scrum-half Danny Care.
Quins started off at their ambitious best, captain Chris Robshaw setting the standard with a superb slip pass to No. 8 Nick Easter as Quins made steady progress towards Saracens’ 22.
The visitors infringed at the ruck and Evans had his first shot at the posts which he calmly slotted for a 3-0 lead.
His opposite man Farrell also got his account under way by hitting a penalty from in front of the posts when Quins were penalised for offside.
Saracens prop Rhys Gill then fell foul of referee Andrew Small – adjudged offside – and Evans restored Quins’ lead from the left side of the pitch.
On 21 minutes, Farrell levelled things up with his second successful attempt on goal and things seemed to be going the way of the hosts when Quins lock Olly Kohn was sent to the sin bin on 32 minutes for preventing Richard Wigglesworth from advancing after a tap penalty.
Farrell knocked over the follow up penalty but their lead was short-lived as three minutes later Care ducked under the attempted tackle of Petrus du Plessis and ran in a try from the 22.
The scrum-half was fortunate that referee Small was unsighted to his apparent fumble in the ruck beforehand but nevertheless Evans converted for a 13-9 half-time lead.
In the second half the game broke up and it was Saracens who benefited the most.
Matt Hopper jinked out of trouble inside his half but was turned over and Farrell shaved Quins’ lead by three.
Both team’s hookers then came to the fore with Schalk Brits bursting out of Kohn’s tackle and running right up the centre of the field before kicking on for Ashton to chase. While the bounce beat both the England wing and Brown, Quins’ replacement No. 2 Rob Buchanan covered half the pitch to sweep up for his full-back and prevent a score.
Buchanan then played his part in getting a nudge on in the scrum which earnt a penalty, yet Evans for the second time in the match, missed his mark.
Farrell however was smack bang in form and when Saracens’ pack won a penalty from a maul he kicked his fifth of the day.
The rugby gods were conspiring against Evans and as he lined up another penalty the ball fell off his tee and the New Zealander was forced to rush his kick and subsequently missed.
Sarries replacement George Kruis was then sin binned for not releasing and Evans made no mistake to re-take the lead 16-15.
Yet Evans was clearly out of sorts and missed his next chance on goal and then hit an up and under which went back over his head and Brown was penalised for offside.
Farrell capitalised with his sixth goal kick to put Saracens back in the lead and they would not relinquish it.