Saracens 39 Harlequins 17: Owen Farrell back in the swing for flying Saracens at Wembley

The Sarries squad flew to New York for a four-day break on Sunday

Owen Farrell slotted seamlessly back into Saracens action following two months away with England by scoring 17 points, including a try, in his club’s 39-17 win over Harlequins at Wembley on Saturday. Nevertheless, it was a desire to re-establish team bonds that led the peripatetic Premiership leaders to jet off for a four-day break in New York on Sunday.

“The club do things a bit differently,” said Farrell’s fellow Saracens fly-half, Charlie Hodgson. “This is a trip for us trying to get the team together to enjoy each other’s company – and we’ll come back on Wednesday and play Wasps on Saturday.”

Harlequins’ decision to “give it a rest”, as they say down Wembley way, to three prime England players, Mike Brown, Danny Care and Chris Robshaw, attracted much critical comment, but the 2012 champions’ attempt to qualify for the top-four Premiership play-offs was a tall order even before Farrell’s interception try, plus others by Chris Ashton, Jacques Burger, Marcelo Bosch and the outstanding George Kruis, helped complete Saracens’ ninth win in the last 10 of these London derbies.

Harlequins’ No 8 Nick Easter defended the omissions. “We saw on Saturday that Northampton’s five England players didn’t quite perform in Sale,” he said. “Our director of rugby, Conor O’Shea, had in mind this time last year when the [England] guys were fatigued and didn’t perform for us. They know they owe the club everything now and let’s hope they bring that form and  confidence they got from England into the run-in. I’ve had texts from them already, saying they can’t wait to turn up on Monday.”

Jacques Burger of Saracens bursts through to score a try (GETTY) Jacques Burger of Saracens bursts through to score a try (GETTY) A stop-start affair, littered with off-the-ball collisions, muted a world-record crowd for a club rugby match (83,889), although the knock to the head that forced Dave Strettle off after five minutes did not prevent the Saracens wing boarding the Big Apple plane yesterday. Among the unsatisfactory elements of that incident – even if it could be leniently accepted that Mo Fa’asavalu’s swinging arm was aiming to dislodge the ball from Strettle’s hands – was an uncertainty over whether the referee, Tim Wigglesworth, had consulted with the television match official. And anyway, even when a TMO review is clearly indicated, the spectator can often only guess at the reason why. An NFL-style announcement by the referee would clear it up.

Meanwhile, it is a fairly good bet Farrell will be given one weekend off himself between now and the end of the season. Saracens have five regular Premiership matches, a Heineken Cup quarter-final in Ulster on Saturday week, and, ideally, another four big fixtures as they pursue the league-and-European double.

“Although it was a bonus point win, I thought we didn’t play at our best and we feel we’re better than that,” said Farrell, who knows the pain of near misses, having shared in England’s recent second place in the Six Nations Championship on points difference, and Saracens’ shattering losses in three semi-finals last season.

“Owen’s feeling good about himself and he took that into the game here,” said Hodgson. “The England attack has taken a bit of time but they’re reaping rewards from it – Owen certainly is and he’s providing a massive threat for the team.”

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
tv

First full-length look is finally here

Life and Style
life
Voices
A mother and her child
voices
Arts and Entertainment
Film director Martin Scorsese
film
News
news

The party's potential nominations read like a high school race for student body president

Voices
The veterans Mark Hayward, Hugh Thompson and Sean Staines (back) with Grayson Perry (front left) and Evgeny Lebedev
charity appealMaverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Arts and Entertainment
Cold case: Aaron McCusker and Christopher Eccleston in ‘Fortitude’
tvReview: Sky Atlantic's ambitious new series Fortitude has begun with a feature-length special
Voices
Three people wearing masks depicting Ed Miliband, David Cameron and Nick Clegg
voicesPolitics is in the gutter – but there is an alternative, says Nigel Farage
News
i100
News
people
Sport
Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho
footballI have never seen the point of lambasting the fourth official, writes Paul Scholes
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

Isis hostage crisis

The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

Cabbage is king again

Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
11 best winter skin treats

Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

Paul Scholes column

The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

Frank Warren's Ringside

No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee