Ben Earl hat-trick guides Saracens to Premiership final as they defeat Harlequins 34-17

Ben Earl starred for Saracens with a hat-trick
Ben Earl starred for Saracens with a hat-trick
©Steve Haag

Saracens 34-17 Harlequins, Stonex Stadium

Ben Earl scored a hat-trick as Saracens overcame three yellow cards to beat Harlequins 34-17 in the semi-final of the Gallagher Premiership at Stonex Stadium.

Mark McCall's men have proved their domination in the competition having returned from the second tier Championship only this season as they faced an automatic relegation at the end of the 2019/20 campaign for a series of salary cap breaches.

Since the 2014/15 season, Saracens have clinched the Premiership title four times as they now face the winner of Leicester and Northampton Saints in a bid for their sixth title.

It took Harlequins just three minutes to start the proceedings with Alex Dombrandt diving over at the back of a rolling maul but the conversion from Marcus Smith went wide. Saracens bounced back as Maro Itoje won a penalty goal that Owen Farrell kicked it to perfection to make it 3-5.

Harlequins got their second inside the opening quarter as Smith broke at the back of a scrum to feed Danny Care, who touched down and Smith got the conversion right this time to stretch their lead nine points before Earl cut the gap down to four points after Farrell gathered the ball to feed the 24-year-old for his first of the three tries.

The half-hour mark saw Harlequins reduced to 14 players temporarily as Jack Walker was sin-binned for a tackle on Farrell and immediately Saracens made use of the numerical advantage as Nick Tompkins dotted down following an offload from Farrell as the teams went into the break with a 15-12 scoreline.

The start of the second half saw Earl score his second try as Dombrandt failed to gather the kick off and Farrell slotted the extras to make it 22-12. The fourth try did not take long for McCall's men as Vincent Koch's inside pass found Aled Davies, who forced his way over but Farrell's conversion went wide.

Saracens' indiscipline almost costed them as Elliot Daly and Billy Vunipola were sin-binned in the 55th and 62nd minutes respectively and Cadan Murley crossed the whitewash for the visitors to make it 27-17. The Quins were presented with another opportunity as they had to play the last eight minutes with a player less with Alex Lozowski yellow carded for a high tackle.

Nevertheless, the Quins did not get the breakthrough they wanted and instead Earl completed his hat-trick in the closing stage to steer them to a Premiership final.

Team line up:

Saracens: Goode; Maitland, Daly, Tompkins, Malins; Farrell (capt), Davies; M Vunipola, George, Koch, Itoje, Swinson, McFarland, Earl, B Vunipola.

Reserves: Pifeleti, Mawi, Clarey, Isiekwe, Christie, Van Zyl, Lozowski, Taylor.

Harlequins: Jones; Green, Marchant, Esterhuizen, Murley; Smith, Care; Marler, Walker, Collier, Symons, Tizard, Lewies (capt), Evans, Dombrandt.

Reserves: Gray, Kerrod, Louw, Jurevicius, Lawday, Gjaltema, Allan, Northmore.

Widely regarded as the most competitive rugby union league in the can only be the Gallagher Premiership.

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