Danny Care was the difference as he created all three Harlequins tries, the third and final one sending Tim Visser over in the final minute to condemn Saracens to their worst losing run since 2010.
Strange to think that Care is effectively England’s second choice scrum-half, hard to think that will remain if he continues to produce performances of that ilk.
Visser Gives Saracens Plenty to Ponder
Defeat though means the 28th October was the last time Saracens won a Premiership contest when they beat London Irish at home. Director of Rugby Mark McCall said his side were now in “uncharted end territory” as they head into colossal back to back games with Clermont Auvergne in Europe.
The likes of Owen Farrell, Jamie George and co returned after England duty, but for all their undeniable quality they failed to influence the game as envisaged. Especially late on when McCall would’ve expected his senior players to manage the game accordingly.
Further insult was added to Saracens when Maro Itoje was taken off early in the second period holding his jaw. The injury believed to be facial but a diagnosis and time span remain unknown.
Magic Care Breaks Saracens Resistance
For the second week in a row Saracens shot out of the blocks, built themselves a lead and then backed their defence. For the second week in a row they came unstuck. Not at all down to effort or application, but mostly down to the sheer volume of work they gave themselves to do.
McCall said post match that unnecessary penalties in needless situations undermined their good work defensively and constantly allowed Quins field position. Although he said his side defended “brilliantly”, but even brilliant defence can only withstand for so long.
Quins threw the kitchen sink and then all its plumbing at the wolfpack midway through the first-half after a concession of penalties landed Quins on the Saracens five metre line. The visitors held out for well over ten minutes before Care’s first moment of inspiration saw him land a cross field kick on a sixpence for Charlie Walker to dot down.
It was Care’s quick tap in the final ten minutes that gave the host the momentum after Walker chased down his kick to cut the gap. But Care saved the best for last when, with 79 minutes in the clock, he attempted his second cross field kick and, after Alex Goode lost the flight of the ball as it came down, Visser dived over to send the Stoop into raptures.
Saracens Architect Defeat
Former Saracens now England defence coach Paul Gustard was in attendance and Saracens hoped to show their former teacher that in his absence they hadn’t lost a step. His report card that should find its way to Eddie Jones’ pigeon hole will mark at around 8/10. The main work on: penalty count.
Despite the lack of discipline McCall, along with several of his players, felt aggrieved at how referee Luke Pearce chose to police the game. The man in the middle appearing to turn a blind eye to any work over the ball by his players, instead penalising them on numerous occasions.
“We just needed to be bright and smart about what we did with our decision making around the breakdown. The referee was blowing a certain way, he wasn’t really rewarding anyone going over the ball so just leave it be and we didn’t.”
McCall called upon his players to be wiser to that, Indeed to be wiser in managing the game. With eight minutes to go the European champions were nine points up before Walker’s second and Visser’s winner took a very winnable contest away from them.
The Saracens Director of Rugby labeling this contest in particular as the one that got away with previous losses to Exeter and Gloucester somewhat born out of opposition brilliance and other mitigating factors.
“All three games are games we should’ve won – especially today. It’s desperately disappointing to lose a game like that in the manner that we did. We’re okay, we’re third in the Premiership and top of our Champions Cup pool. But for now it’s just disdaining to lost in the way we did.”
“We had a lot of experienced players on the field today. We’ve got to learn the lessons from today, this one was different from the other two because we were the masters of our own downfall today.”
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