Heartbreak for Harlequins with defeat in semi-final
13th Jun 2022 | Rugby
Harlequins' thrilling Premiership title defence ended in a feisty 34-17 defeat to Saracens.
Alex Dombrandt and Danny Care scored to fire the visitors into a dream 12-3 lead after 20 minutes.
But Saracens roared back and scored 24 unanswered points in a period which ultimately decided the match.
On a sunny day and roared on by thousands of vocal Harlequins fans, the visitors made a perfect start when they won an early lineout and Dombrandt crashed over in the fifth minute.
Owen Farrell responded almost immediately with a penalty but Harlequins extended their lead with a moment of magic in the 20th minute.
After dominating the hosts in a scrum, Marcus Smith stepped through the Saracens defence before offloading to Care who dived over.
Smith converted to make the score 12-3.
Credit: JMP/Juan Gasparini for @harlequins.
The Saracens response was instant as Premiership Player of the Season Ben Earl bounced off two tackles to score to reduce the deficit by five points.
Harlequins thought they had scored their third try when Joe Marchant ran through to touch down after a scrappy passage of play.
The try did not stand, however, and Harlequins were further penalised when Jack Walker was shown the yellow card for an illegal tackle on Farrell in the build up to Marchant coasting clear.
Harlequins were unable to withstand the hosts who capitalised on the numerical advantage to take charge of the tie.
First Nick Tomkins darted over after being freed by Farrell's sublime offload. Then Earl scored again less than a minute into the second half after Harlequins failed to grab hold of the kick-off.
Farrell converted both tries to give his side a 22-12 lead.
Walker returned to even up the numbers but Saracens scored again soon after when Vincent Koch barreled through to send Aled Davies in to score.
Trailing by 15 points, Harlequins were given a lifeline when Elliot Daly and Billy Vunipola were both shown yellow cards for high tackles on Smith and Andre Esterhuizen respectively.
With 15 minutes remaining Harlequins made the numerical advantage count when Club Player of the Year Cadan Murley scored in the corner. It was his 15th Premiership try of an impressive season.
With time running out, Harlequins thought they had scored again but Tom Lawday was adjudged to have been held up by Nick Isiekwe.
With Daly and Vunipola restored, it was Saracens who finished the strongest with Earl scoring his third try to confirm their place at Twickenham next week.