Owen Farrell worried players have to tread ‘very fine line’ when making tackles

Saracens had three players sent to the sin bin during their 34-17 win over Harlequins in the Gallagher Premiership semi-final.

By Press Association Published: 12 June 2022 - 9.00pm

Owen Farrell insists players are forced to tread a “very fine line” when tackling after Saracens secured their place in Saturday’s Gallagher Premiership final despite incurring three yellow cards.

Saracens stand one win away from completing their quest for redemption from their salary cap scandal after toppling champions Harlequins 34-17 to set up a Twickenham showdown against Leicester.

A display of trademark resilience saw Mark McCall’s men battle back from 12-3 down to score 24 unanswered points, in the process emerging largely unscathed from a lengthy Quins siege in the final quarter.

Victory was delivered against the odds as dangerous challenges by Elliot Daly, Billy Vunipola and Alex Lozowski meant they played five minutes of the second half with only 13 men and 25 minutes with at least one player in the sin bin. Harlequins also saw Jack Walker receive a yellow card for the same offence.

The sport has a zero tolerance policy to high tackles due to the risks involved, but Farrell insists players are making instant decisions that can have significant consequences if wrong.

“A few of the tackles were just trying to be dominant. There was no malice in it and the referee has seen it as a yellow card and that’s it, we get on with it,” the Saracens captain said.

“There are times you can slow down loads of contact on TV and find something. When there’s a bigger collision people look at it more.

“It’s a very fine line and I don’t think people quite understand when it gets slowed down on TV how quick those decisions are.

“We know what we can and can’t do, but you still have to have enough intent to go forward in your defence. If you are constantly being passive you probably won’t get picked next week.

“I’m glad everyone is doing what they can to make the game go in the right direction in terms of safety and we will do what we can to control that.

“Hopefully it goes in the right direction – the game is safe but there’s some common sense to it too.”

Saracens' Ben Earl scored a hat-trick of tries against Harlequins
Saracens’ Ben Earl scored a hat-trick of tries against Harlequins (Mark Pain/PA)

Saracens have reached the Premiership final for the first time since 2019, after which they were relegated for repeatedly breaking the salary cap.

Director Mark McCall said that the loyalty shown by players and staff that kept the club together amid the scandal was evident on the pitch against Harlequins and Farrell insists he never had any doubt that the squad would remain largely intact.

“Probably the best thing I can say is that we as players probably just always thought that would happen,” he said.

“I don’t think anybody thought for two seconds that we’d all end up all over the place.

“The biggest shock was a few younger lads going on loan as they tried to break into the international team, which was good for them and good for the club. We never expected anyone to want to go anywhere else.

“This group is tight. It’s been together a long, long time. It’s been a bit different over the last few years because of a bit of change, but there’s a core group that’s been together a long, long time.”

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