Harlequins 0 Saracens 39 – The Stoop – Friday 12th September 2014 by Mike Miles from Scrumdown.org.uk
In their preview of the 2014/15 Premiership season, the magazine “Rugby World” wrote of Harlequins:”Their positive play will never see them truly smashed”. The writer may now be having second thoughts.
But to draw conclusions only two league games into the season might seem preposterous, either to nominate Saracens to run away with the league, or to fear that Quins might struggle to rise above mid-table. But any more games like I witnessed at the Stoop on Friday night and we might have to re-consider those thoughts. It is almost unknown for two serious aspirants to the Premiership title to finish as far apart as did Harlequins and Saracens on Friday.
It was savage. Harlequins were obliterated. Conor O’Shea’s team failed to score a point in an Aviva Premiership match for the first time since 2009.Saracens won by the unbelievable score of 39-0 and were awesome, up front and in defence. Even when the match was still nominally in the balance Sarries held out with ease against six frantic attempts from Quins to drive over from short range. One of the late Saracens tries came about because a sustained Harlequins move died a lingering death under the pressure of their wolf pack defence. Even when Saracens had men yellow-carded on two occasions they still managed to score.
Saracens will be sanguine. If one game does not in the end set the pattern for their season, then it was a heck of a one-off. Harlequins on the other hand will be anxious. Professional teams traditionally use a poor performance as a basis for a bounce-back. But Quins had already given a poor performance in the previous match against London Irish. Friday was presumably meant to be the bounce back.
There were omens. Harlequins’ only victory over Saracens in their last eleven fixtures since 2009 was 24-19 at Wembley back in March 2012. Saracens have won on six of their last seven visits to The Stoop. Now make that seven.
Mike Brown, the Harlequins full back, had stoked the fires before kick-off, describing this as their biggest “grudge match”. Bu the feisty full back was made to eat his words and they will have tasted bitter. Though to be fair to Brown, he was the only Harlequin to deliver a performance that remotely matched the passion and intensity he would have expected of his team mates. Had it not been for his two last-ditch tackles the scoreline would have hit 50.