Harlequins 11-19 Saracens, Aviva Premiership
Farrell shines in Saracens victory
ESPNscrum Staff
December 28, 2011
Saracens centre Owen Farrell kicks a penalty, Saracens v Ospreys, Heineken Cup, Wembley, London, England, December 10, 2011
Saracens' Owen Farrell caught the eye once again during his side's Premiership victory over Harlequins © Getty Images

Rival bosses Mark McCall and Conor O'Shea were united in their praise for young England hopeful Owen Farrell after Saracens defeated Aviva Premiership leaders Harlequins at Twickenham.

Saracens centre Farrell was in good form in front of an 82,000 crowd - a world record for a regular-season club fixture - kicking 14 points as Quins' unbeaten league record this season ended with a 19-11 loss.

Saracens rugby director McCall listed Farrell among a string of candidates at the club who he feels could attract England interim coach Stuart Lancaster's attention moving towards him announcing a 32-man Six Nations squad on January 11. "Hopefully they [the England coaches] will take notice, and I am sure some of the Quins players have put themselves forward as well," McCall said.

Six years ago, O'Shea was in charge of identifying the next generation of England stars as part of the Rugby Football Union's academy structure, and Farrell has been on his radar since he was just 14. "I am sure he will be a cornerstone for England for a long time," Quins rugby director O'Shea said. "I saw him at Loughborough in a training camp when he was 14. It was an under-18 camp, and he ran the show. He's an outstanding player."

In other England news, London Irish head coach Toby Booth defended Delon Armitage after an incident that could yet land him in further disciplinary hot water during the Exiles' 29-22 victory over Madejski Stadium visitors Exeter. Exeter fly-half Ignacio Mieres was left shaken after Armitage clattered into him with an arm around his head.

Armitage only returned to action with Irish this month after a five-week ban for a dangerous tackle on Bath wing Tom Biggs and a concurrent suspension for striking lock Dave Attwood with his knee in the same match on October 29. It was his fourth suspension in 2011.

But Booth said: "He went in for a tackle from behind and, as the player has bent down, he [Armitage] has gone up over the top of him. It is a penalty, at most, in my opinion. But, as always, because of what has gone before, people will have a closer look."

Leicester, meanwhile, are waiting to discover the extent of hamstring injuries to their England internationals Manu Tuilagi and Louis Deacon, who both limped off during the closing stages of a 32-13 bonus point win at Worcester.

"They have both got hamstring strains of various degrees," Leicester rugby director Richard Cockerill said. "We are not sure to what extent at this stage, but during the course of the next 24 hours we will know."

Deacon, Toby Flood, who finished with 17 points, Matt Smith and Horacio Agulla scored Tigers' tries as they extended their unbeaten Premiership run to five games.

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