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Saracens 42 Harlequins 14

28 Mar 2015
Saracens 42 Harlequins 14

Chris Ashton and Chris Wyles each grabbed a try double as Saracens secured a bonus-point win over Harlequins in front of a world-record crowd at Wembley.

84,068 fans turned out at the home of English football for the clash of the two London Aviva Premiership Rugby rivals, a world record for a club rugby match.

Jack Clifford’s try inside 30 seconds gave Quins the perfect start but Wyles and Ashton both went over for Sarries before the interval as they opened up a 21-8 lead.

Ashton grabbed a second soon after the break, Wyles’ late score secured the bonus point and Billy Vunipola grabbed a deserved fifth to move Sarries back above Exeter Chiefs and into second in the table.

Quins’ last win over their London rivals came at Wembley three years ago, and they were given a 39-0 thumping at the Stoop at the start of this season.

But it was O’Shea’s side who were handed the perfect start when Clifford charged down Neil de Kock’s clearance, collected the loose ball and dived over in the right corner for a try inside half a minute.

Evans missed with the extras but both sides were enjoying plenty of possession in a fast-paced open start to proceedings.

David Strettle, against his former club, looked extremely sharp coming in off his wing and Sarries had their reply in the tenth minute.

Marcelo Bosch made the initial burst and when the ball was fed from Ashton to de Kock and finally to Wyles the American dived over under the posts for Sarries’ first try.

Hodgson’s conversion put them in front and it got worse for Quins moments later when Ugo Monye was isolated in scrambling to collect Strettle’s clever kick and forced to concede a penalty for holding on.

Referee Wayne Barnes sent the winger to the sin bin for good measure and Hodgson – playing his 100th game for Sarries – slotted his first penalty of the game to stretch their lead to 10-5.

Evans got a penalty back almost immediately for Quins to make it a three-point game and while Hodgson was off target with a long-range effort of his own Sarries were now the dominant side.

And it was Ashton who cemented their ascendancy with a fine second try, chipping the ball ahead and beating Danny Care in a foot race to dive on the loose ball.

Hodgson’s conversion was off target and after that Alex Goode took over the kicking duties and the full-back slotted two penalties before the interval to stretch the lead to 21-8.

Quins needed to score first after half-time to have any chance of mounting a comeback and after a fine Care break Evans slotted a penalty to make it 21-11.

But up the other end Sarries had a third and Ashton a second in the 50th minute, Wyles making a fine break after being put into a hole by Hodgson and then feeding the winger.

Goode’s conversion from the right touchline was straight and true and at 28-11 the victory was effectively secured with half an hour still to play.

Quins fought hard up to the hour mark but despite plenty of possession and territory in the Sarries half they rarely looked like breaching the defensive wall and had to settle for an Evans penalty to make it 28-14.

The final quarter of an hour was about whether Sarries could secure a fourth try and a bonus point but their job was made a lot harder when Ashton saw yellow for a dangerous tackle on Matt Hopper.

But despite the numerical disadvantage there was still time for Wyles to secure the all-important fourth try, the centre diving onto Strettle’s hack through to ground the ball over the line despite the attentions of Marland Yarde.

And No.8 Vunipola barged over at the back of a rolling maul to cap off a superb day for Sarries at Wembley that puts them in a great position to secure a semi-final spot.

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