Harlequins’ 41-14 win over Saracens at The Stoop on Sunday finished a gruelling week for the reigning champions as they were overwhelmed by their London rivals. 

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The home side blitzed to an early 19-0 lead and never let it go in a performance that saw them climb up to sixth in the table, only one point behind the top four. While this was a good display for Harlequins in terms of their season, it was a major statement from some of their players, particularly with the Six Nations starting this weekend. 

Eddie Jones named his England squad last week, with some noticeable absences from Harlequins, chiefly No8 Alex Dombrandt. This omission was only magnified by the recent broken arm to Billy Vunipola, as well as rivals Sam Simmonds and Nathan Hughes also missing out. 

However, it took only a matter of minutes of the contest on Sunday for Dombrandt to showcase his talents, setting up Danny Care for the opening try of the match. His deft hands put the scrumhalf into the gap, then he showed his strength upon receiving the ball to deliver a one-handed offload to his teammate. 

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The No8’s brute force has never been questioned, but he showed his subtle hands at times throughout the match and made an almighty statement to the England head coach. 

Jones has recently said that the 22-year-old does not have the workrate that he requires. Although he may not get through the number of carries Vunipola may in a match, he was no slouch against Saracens, and it is a case of the quality of each carry which marks him out. 

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The 35-man squad named last week will likely change through the course of the Six Nations, and Dombrandt must be one player hoping for a call-up over the next two months. 

Elsewhere, his teammate Marcus Smith also sent a timely reminder to Jones after being overlooked in favour of Wasps’ 21-year-old flyhalf Jacob Umaga last week. His man of the match performance was an indication of why Jones has taken such a keen interest in the 20-year-old over the past couple of years. 

While there must have undoubtedly been an air of disappointment amongst some Harlequins players last week, and indeed amongst clubs across England, they have bounced back in perfect fashion. 

Watch: Chris Whitaker Waratahs interview

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