Premiership: Saracens 24-11 Harlequins

London Stadium
A sell-out crowd of 57,000 packed into the London Stadium
Aviva Premiership
Saracens (18) 24
Tries: Williams, Itoje Con: Lozowski Pens: Lozowski 4
Harlequins (6) 11
Try: Horwill Pens: Catrakilis 2

Saracens beat local rivals Harlequins in the first Premiership match at London Stadium to boost their hopes of earning a home play-off semi-final.

With several players back from the Six Nations, it was two Sarries returnees - Wales wing Liam Williams and England back row Maro Itoje - who crossed to give them an 18-6 half-time lead.

Harlequins captain James Horwill bundled over to reduce the deficit.

But Saracens stretched their lead with 14 men to seal an impressive victory.

Replacement fly-half Max Malins was sent to the sin-bin for a deliberate knock-on with 10 minutes left.

However, Quins could not capitalise with any points, with Alex Lozowski slotting over his fourth penalty for Sarries late on.

The win moves Saracens up to second, three points clear of Wasps and Newcastle, but Wasps can reclaim the place with victory at Leicester on Sunday.

Sarries, who are bidding for their third Premiership title in four seasons, have four matches left to secure a top-two finish and home semi-final.

After a depleted side were beaten 24-12 at defending champions Exeter in the previous round, Saracens were back to their clinical best before the break.

Williams scored the pick of the tries, dotting down in the corner after a fabulous break from Sean Maitland and flowing move across the line, before Itoje burst through for his first league try of the season.

The game fizzled out after Horwill gave Quins a glimmer of hope early in the second half, as they struggled to break down a resolute defence.

Their disappointing afternoon was compounded by losing fly-half Demetri Catrakilis to injury in the first half.

But Saracens have injury problems of their own. Director of rugby Mark McCall revealed that Owen Farrell (quadricep) and George Kruis (back), both missing from Saturday's win, are touch and go to make next Sunday's Champions Cup quarter-final against Leinster.

Saracens director of rugby Mark McCall:

"Maro Itoje was brilliant. He looked like he was full of energy, full of life and he was deservedly man of the match.

"It will give him a lot of confidence going into next weekend [against Leinster], but his performance wasn't a surprise to us.

"Sometimes when people tell you that you look tired then you can feel tired, but Maro is not that kind of individual and he proved that.

"There were a lot of penalties, which no one could understand and a lot of decisions no one could understand, but we ultimately made some errors ourselves and gave away some soft penalties."

Quins director of rugby John Kingston:

"We gave them two soft tries. You lose a line-out on the halfway line and then find yourself conceding a try 10 seconds later after one phase. That shouldn't be happening.

"The second one was even softer. When you're playing at this level, you can't be gifting people tries as soft as that.

"We got right on the front foot and played some good rugby in the second half and, I don't mean this in any way disrespectfully, but we had Saracens worried.

"With 15 minutes to go, I thought they were teetering, but we just weren't accurate enough in the opportunities that we had to serve a knockout blow."

Saracens: Goode; Williams, Bosch, Barritt (c), Maitland; Lozowski, Wigglesworth; Barrington, George, Figallo, Itoje, Day, Isiekwe, Burger, Wray.

Replacements: Brits, M Vunipola, Lamositele, Earle, Cowan, Spencer, Malins, Wyles.

Harlequins: Brown; Alofa, Marchant, Roberts, Visser; Catrakilis, Care; Lambert, Gray, Sinckler, Matthews, Horwill (c), Robshaw, Wallace, Chisholm.

Replacements: Ward, Marler, Collier, Luamanu, Clifford, Lewis, Smith, Saili.

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