Saull pitches in for Saracens

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The Independent Online

There were probably more eyes on the Wembley pitch than on the match being played upon it yesterday, as Saracens took a fourth home fixture to the national stadium. Anyone who saw Tottenham Hotspur's Michael Dawson slip as Portsmouth scored in last week's FA Cup semi-final – and anyone who saw the Australia prop Matt Dunning rupture an achilles when the pitch gave way under a scrum in a Barbarians match in 2008 – will have been curious to see how the most maligned patch of turf in the country fared under the hooves of Saracens and Harlequins' heavy brigades.

In the event, the pitch held up relatively well throughout a match that was played out in front of a crowd that filled most of the stadium's bottom two tiers. Saracens beat Quins 37-18 to tighten their grip on a play-off place.

Saracens scored two first-half tries through their England Saxons flanker, Andy Saull, and led 18-8 at the break, thanks to two penalties and a conversion from the former Springbok fly-half Derick Hougaard. The hooker Chris Brooker scored a try for Harlequins and Rory Clegg kicked a penalty.

The South African hooker Schalk Brits scored Saracens' third try and the Samoan wing Michael Tagicakibau the fourth, sealing a bonus point. The former Bay of Plenty fly-half Glen Jackson, who replaced Hougaard at half-time, converted Brits's try and Sarries' fifth, which was scored by the No 8, Ernst Joubert, from an interception. Ugo Monye and Chris York scored late tries for Quins.

Saracens are third in the Premiership, eight points clear of Wasps, in fourth, and nine ahead of fifth-placed London Irish. Brendan Venter's side, who made a storming start to the season before struggling either side of Christmas, are thus on the brink of sealing a play-off spot.

Saracens' other fixtures at Wembley this season brought victories over Northampton and Worcester in the Premiership and South Africa in a tour match.