Saracens 6 Harlequins 15: Care the visionary leads Harlequins' charge

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The Independent Online

Danny Care, the scrum-half, produced another masterful performance that helped to haul Harlequins into sixth place in the Premiership with victory over a shambolic Saracens last night.

It is only the second time since the start of the season that Quins have managed to string two league wins together. Care, aged 21, revealed a lightning-fast pass and devastating pace on the break, putting in superb kicks behind the advancing opposition and hoisting wicked box kicks that had Saracens in all sorts of trouble.

Saracens' cause was not helped by two late changes. The second row, Tom Ryder, withdrew yesterday morning because of sickness, and then the fly-half, Glen Jackson, who had passed a fitness test on an injured hamstring earlier in the day, aggravated the problem during the pre-match warm-up, which meant that Gordon Ross stepped up from the bench.

Jackson's absence was telling as there was nobody to take charge in the way the New Zealander usually does.

His unpredictability would have been a useful weapon, as would his accurate place-kicking. Ross missed two penalties, but if either had been successful it would have earned Saracens a losing bonus point.

Harlequins did have to weather an early Saracens storm, during which they conceded a penalty, but then they bit back.

Their pack showed good skills in the loose, handling the ball with aplomb, none more so than the No 8, Tom Guest. He made plenty of telling carries, although his most important contribution was at the tail of a line-out when he took the throw and instantly threw it two-handed back to Care. The scrum-half darted through a gaping hole, drew what little cover there was and passed to Chris Robshaw on the left.

Adrian Jarvis, who had landed a penalty in the 19th minute, missed the conversion, but that score put Harlequins in front.

Saracens had their moments but Adam Powell, showing pace and vision, lacked support runners. Saracens did eventually get over the Harlequins line after good work by Powell and Kris Chesney, but, sadly for them, Chris Jack could not ground the ball before sliding into touch.

Back into Saracens territory surged Quins, their poky back row unit constantly to the fore. Then Care, ever the visionary, spotted space out on the left and, more importantly, Ugo Monye. A measured, crossfield chip with the outside of Care's right foot enabled the ball tobounce perfectly for Monye to help himself to the simplest of tries. Jarvis converted.

There was more grit and fire to Saracens after the interval and Ross landed a second penalty, the only score of the half, but Saracens lacked the cutting edge in attack and the Harlequins defence was too tight to let any Saracen through.

Saracens: Penalties Ross 2.

Harlequins: Tries Robshaw, Monye; Conversion Jarvis; Penalty Jarvis.

Saracens: B Russell (E Thrower, 80+2); R Haughton, R Penney, A Powell, F Leonelli (D Scarbrough, 38); G Ross, N de Kock (capt; A Dickens, 80+2); N Lloyd, F Ongaro (A Kyriacou, 66), C Johnston (T Mercey, 80+2), C Jack, I Fullarton (H Vyvyan, 62), K Chesney (B Skirving, 62), R Hill, P Gustard.

Harlequins: M Brown; T Williams, H Luscombe (De Wet Barry, 80+2), T Masson, U Monye; A Jarvis (C Malone, 64), D Care; C Jones, T Fuga, M Ross, J Percival, N Spanghero (G Robson, 64), C Robshaw, W Skinner (capt), T Guest (C Hala'ufia, 56).

Referee: A Spreadbury (Somerset).