Harlequins 29-23 Saracens: Quins’ stage thrilling comeback to edge past London rivals in bruising encounter at the Stoop
Harlequins bring Saracens winning run to an end with a 29-23 triumph at the Stoop
Tries from Rob Buchanan and Jack Clifford gave Harlequins an unexpected 15-14 lead at half-time
Scores from Neil de Kock and Billy Vunipola kept the league leaders within touch
Rhys Gill was sent off for Saracens in the second half
James Horwill scored the decisive score in the last minute as Quins triumphed
Harlequins brought Saracens incredible winning run to an end with a 29-23 win in front of a sellout crowd at the Stoop in a bruising encounter on Saturday.
The hosts lost James Horwill to the sin-bin early on before Saracens took full advantage with Neil de Kock crashing over for the games opening score.
Harlequins hit back with Rob Buchanan touching down, but Billy Vunipola crashed over on his 50th appearance before the break to give Saracens an 8-14 lead heading towards the break.
However, England hopeful Jack Clifford had the final say as his score, converted by Nick Evans gave the hosts, who had been on the back foot for most of the opening 40 an unexpected 15-14 lead at half-time
Owen Farrell kicked three penalties after the break, but Ben Botica’s boot got Quins back ahead after Sarries prop Rhys Gill was sent off.
Quins, with the momentum, had Lock Horwill score late on to confirm victory for Quins..
Quins got off to the worst possible start, as James Horwill was yellow carded for an ugly collision with George Kruis at the breakdown. The Sarries second row then was unable to continue and was replaced by Maro Itoje.
With the man advantage, Saracens began to put pressure on the hosts before finally breaking through following a mammoth of a scrum after nine minutes with Neil De Kock touching down. Owen Farrell then knocked over the extras to give the visitors a seven-point lead.
Against the run of play, Quins got back in the game from an unconverted score via Buchanan, who was picked out by Danny Care to dive over in the corner after 21 minutes, 5-7.
Sarries responded with a try of their own five minutes later as Billy Vunipola, on his 50th appearance, crashed over after a marvelous pick and go from the base of the scrum
Harlequins nevertheless would go into half-time in the lead as Clifford dived over after a crafty inside ball from fly-half Evans for a sensational try. The number 10 then added the extras to give the hosts a one-point lead at the break, 15-14.
Saracens reclaimed their lead with an early second-half penalty as Farrell made no mistake from the tee with an excellent kick, 15-17.
Farrell knocked over another penalty to extend the gap to five points, but replacement Ben Botica was on hand to close the gap again as Quins continued to scrap and claw.
The hosts then found themselves a man up as Sarries Rhys Gill was red-carded for a dangerous tackle after 65 minutes.
Botica and Quins took full advantage as the replacement kicker sent over to penalties to give the regain the hosts narrow one-point lead heading into the final five minutes.
Lock James Horwill scored late on to confirm victory for Quins after replacement prop Gill had been sent off for Sarries.
Harlequins: 15 Mike Brown, 14 Marland Yarde, 13 George Lowe, 12 Jamie Roberts, 11 Ross Chisholm, 10 Nick Evans, 9 Danny Care (c), 8 Jack Clifford, 7 Luke Wallace, 6 Chris Robshaw, 5 Charlie Matthews, 4 James Horwill, 3 Adam Jones, 2 Rob Buchanan, 1 Joe Marler.
Replacements: 16 Dave Ward, 17 Seb Adeniran-Olule, 18 Will Collier, 19 George Merrick, 20 Nick Easter, 21 Karl Dickson, 22 Tim Swiel, 23 Harry Sloan.
Saracens: 15 Alex Goode, 14 Chris Ashton, 13 Marcelo Bosch, 12 Duncan Taylor, 11 Mike Ellery, 10 Owen Farrell, 9 Neil de Kock, 8 Billy Vunipola, 7 Will Fraser, 6 Jackson Wray, 5 George Kruis, 4 Jim Hamilton, 3 Petrus Du Plessis, 2 Jamie George (c), 1 Mako Vunipola.
Replacements: 16 Jared Saunders, 17 Rhys Gill, 18 Titi Lamositele, 19 Maro Itoje, 20 Jacques Burger, 21 Richard Wigglesworth, 22 Charlie Hodgson, 23 Nick Tompkins.
Date: Saturday, January 9
Venue: The Stoop
Kick-off: 15:00 GMT
Referee: Craig Maxwell-Keys
Assistant Referees: Ashley Rowden, Simon McConnell
TMO: Keith Lewis