Aviva Premiership: Saracens hit back to remains unbeaten at the Stoop
Last Updated: 28/09/13 9:44pm
Chris Ashton scored the only try as Saracens picked apart Aviva Premiership title rivals Harlequins 22-12 in a dominant second half at the Twickenham Stoop.
The England wing rounded off an eye-catching move for his second try of the campaign and Owen Farrell kicked five penalties and a conversion to help the north London club to a fourth successive victory.
It is the first time the Premiership's only unbeaten team has failed to claim a try-scoring bonus point, but the manner in which they crushed a major rival in a one-sided second half sounded an ominous warning to the rest of the league.
Harlequins' aggressive defence was outstanding as they initially matched the pacesetters blow for blow and they deserved to lead 12-6 at the interval after Nick Evans had landed four penalties.
But having run themselves into the ground, their resistance faded and they repeatedly flung the ball in hope as Saracens expertly ground them into submission.
Namibian openside Jacques Burger, the dominant force at the breakdown, finished man of the match following another fearless display.
Only an unkind bounce prevented Saracens scrum-half Richard Wigglesworth from scoring early on as he blocked Evans' clearance, but the ball trickled beyond his reach and out of the in goal area.
A frantic opening continued as Ugo Monye flattened Chris Wyles and George Lowe executed a try-saving tackle on David Strettle who lose the footrace to the whitewash.
Monye easily rounded Ashton as Quins attacked down the left, exposing the England wing's defence, chipped ahead and was then blocked by a shoulder from Alex Goode.
Sending Goode to the sin bin was an easy decision for referee Martin Fox and Evans slotted his second penalty, Quins led 6-0.
Farrell kicked a penalty for Saracens but Quins replied with a driving maul through the heart of the opposition pack and having spent much of the opening quarter in their own half, they were now in the ascendancy.
The lead was restored to six points by the boot of Evans, but that was threatened when Kelly Brown broke clear from a line-out and, seeing space before him, he dashed towards the line.
The Scotland blindside looked destined to score, but Tom Williams turned him over. Maurie Fa'asavalu yanked down Jacques Burger as a scuffle broke out and was sent to the sin bin as a result.
Farrell and Evans swapped penalties and the half ended with Strettle knocking on over the line.
Saracens had begun to build pressure as the interval approached and this continued when play resumed as they won penalties at successive scrums.
Billy Vunipola was becoming increasingly prominent and the first try arrived shortly after he had made the hard yards with Strettle, Farrell and Wyles instrumental in sending Ashton over.
Farrell converted and kicked a penalty and to rub salt into Quins' growing wounds prop Joe Marler was sin-binned for pulling down a maul.
A turnover was secured by Robshaw, who ripped the ball from Vunipola, but Saracens were irrepressible as they powered back upfield after capitalising on the growing number of errors made by the 2012 champions.
Two more penalties arrived from Farrell and when Evans missed a late penalty, the losing bonus points had slipped from Quins' hands.