Saracens v Harlequins
28 Mar 2015 - 3:15 PM
Saracens 42 Harlequins 14
Saracens kept pace with Aviva Premiership leaders Northampton with a stunning 42-14 victory over Harlequins at Wembley in front of a world record 84,068 crowd for a club game.
A brace of tries apiece from Chris Wyles and Chris Ashton plus a late Billy Vunipola score secured the win while Charlie Hodgson and Alex Goode contributed 17 points from the boot between them.
Quins replied through a solitary Jack Clifford touchdown with fly-half Nick Evans kicking three penalties.
Clifford got Quins off to a superb start when the former England U20 flanker blocked Neil de Kock's attempted box kick deep inside Sarries territory to beat the cover and touch down in the right corner.
Evans dragged the touchline conversion wide as Conor O'Shea's side established an early 5-0 lead with barely a minute of the contest played.
It did not take long for Sarries to respond, with the north Londoners scoring a try of the highest quality. United States international Wyles finished off a sweeping move to race under the posts for a fine score.
Hodgson, who was making his 100th appearance for the club, fired over the conversion to put his team into the lead.
Quins were dealt a further blow when Ugo Monye was sent to the sin-bin in the 14th minute. The veteran Quins winger was shown the yellow card by referee Wayne Barnes for failing to release at the ruck following a superb David Strettle break.
Hodgson made no mistake with his penalty effort as Mark McCall's men recovered from an awful start to lead 10-5 after a breathless opening quarter.
Evans trimmed Sarries' lead to 10-8 in the 17th minute but it was Ashton who would strike next with a superb score. After a probing skip pass from Hodgson, the out-of-favour England international chipped ahead and showed great acceleration to pounce on his own kick and touch down for Sarries' second try of the afternoon.
Quins needed a response but it was Goode, who had taken over the goal-kicking duties from Hodgson, who extended his side's lead with a 32nd-minute penalty and soon had a second opportunity when Quins lock Charlie Matthews was penalised for not rolling away at the ruck.
Trailing 21-8 at the break, Evans kicked a much-needed penalty for Quins in the 46th minute after Jacques Burger infringed at the breakdown.
That score proved to be only a temporary respite, however, as Ashton scorched over for his second try of the game following a powerful midfield break from Wyles. Goode added the extras as Sarries raced out to a 28-11 lead.
Evans kept Quins in the hunt with another three-pointer in the 56th minute but Sarries were in complete control as they chased a fourth try in the final quarter.
After a stunning two-try performance, Ashton was forced to watch the last 10 minutes of the game from the sideline following his 70th-minute sin-binning for a spear tackle on Quins centre Matt Hopper.
Ashton's departure failed to halt Sarries' advances, however, as Wyles latched onto Strettle's kick to grab his brace and secure a precious bonus point.
Billy Vunipola capped off a perfect day for Sarries as the number eight powered over for a late try from a surging rolling maul.