Quins halt Sarries

Ben Botica kicked three second-half penalties as Harlequins beat Saracens 29-23 at the Stoop, while Exeter, Leicester, London Irish and Wasps also won in the English Premiership.

Sarries opened the scoring in the ninth minute through scrumhalf Neil de Kock, taking advantage of a 14-man Quins side with James Horwill in the sin bin. The hosts scored their first try of the match 12 minutes later, but flyhalf Nick Evans failed to convert hooker Rob Buchanan’s five-pointer. Both sides scored another converted try, but it was Quins who lead at the break thanks to a successful Evans penalty, the score 15-14.

Saracens pivot Owen Farrell made up for an earlier miss as he slotted two penalties to give the visitors a five-point lead early in the second half. Sarries held onto their lead as Farrell traded penalties with Quins replacement flyhalf Ben Botica, but a red card shown to Rhys Gill in the 65th minute eased the pressure on the hosts. A third successful penalty from Botica gave Quins a one-point lead with just seven minutes left.

It looked like the match would end 24-23 for the hosts, but James Horwill had the last say scoring in the 79th minute as Harlequins handed Saracens their first Premiership defeat of the season.

Elsewhere on Saturday, the Exeter Chiefs held off a late comeback from Gloucester to win 19-10 at home. Chiefs No 8 Thomas Waldrom scored two quick tries in the first half to help the hosts take a 19-0 lead into half-time. Gloucester came back strong thereafter, while Chiefs failed to build on their lead. The Cherry and Whites scored in the 72nd minute to reduce the deficit to nine points, but they were unable to capitalise and came away with no points.

The Leicester Tigers edged the Northampton Saints 30-27 in a thrilling encounter at Welford Road. As always, the East Midlands derby did not disappoint as the Tigers raced to a 21-0 lead after just 23 minutes, scoring three converted tries. The hosts took a healthy 21-8 lead into the break. Saints produced a valiant second-half comeback to level the scores at 27-27 after 78 minutes, but a costly error on full-time allowed the Tigers’ Freddie Burns to slot a penalty from in front to hand the hosts the win.

On Sunday, London Irish held on for a 20-15 win against the Newcastle Falcons at Madejski Stadium. The hosts led 6-0 at the break with Chris Noakes slotting two penalties. The Exiles scored two quick tries to take a 20-0 lead after 45 minutes. The Falcons hit back with a converted try in the 54th minute and then again in the 67th, taking advantage of 14-man London Irish to trail by just five points. However, the hosts defended well to secure their second win of the season.

Wasps overpowered the Worcester Warriors to win 32-22 at the Ricoh Arena. The Warriors kept the hosts at bay for much of the first half and took a 13-3 lead into half-time. Wasps launched a strong comeback after the break to level the scores at 13-13 after 48 minutes. Centre Andy Simmons kept the visitors in front, slotting three penalties before Wasps scored twice in the dying stages to claim the win.

Friday’s match between Bath and the Sale Sharks had been postponed to allow Bath to play their round one Champions Cup match against Toulon, postponed in November, on Sunday.

Round 9 results:

Harlequins 29 Saracens 23
Exeter Chiefs 19 Gloucester 10
Leicester Tigers 30 Northampton Saints 27
London Irish 20 Newcastle Falcons 15
Wasps 32 Worcester Warriors 22

Photo: Dan Mullan/Getty Images