Botha: Stop Evans, you stop Quins
You beauty: Quins back row star Maurie Fa'asavalu celebrates his decisive try at the weekend Picture: Gary Brind
England lock Mouritz Botha has warned Quins fans expecting their side’s style to trump Sarries’ substance at Wembley on Saturday to think again, insisting the Men in Black have their own aces up their sleeves.
Quins head to Saracens top of the pile and three points above the defending Aviva Premiership champions seeking revenge for defeat at Twickenham which ended their ten-game winning run.
With Botha and co’s domineering forward line, Owen Farrell’s trusty right boot and Brad Barritt’s bruising defence, Saracens have built a reputation for bull-dozing opposition this season, while Quins’ scintillating backline, orchestrated by Nick Evans, tends to bewilder.
But 30-year-old Botha, who started all five of England’s Six Nations matches this season, is convinced Sarries will be able to fight fire with fire and flair with flair.
"The fans will probably expect Quins to run from everywhere and Sarries to kick from everywhere but we do like to play a bit of rugby and we will want to show that," said Botha.
"It will be a tight game, it was last time but we hope that with the home support at Wembley we will be able to get the better of them again.
"We beat them at Twickenham when there was a new world record for a league club match attendance and hopefully that’s something we will beat at Wembley. It is two top teams in terms of the league table and it was an interesting contrast of styles last time.
"This is the business end of the season and what you put the hard work in for and this is where you must stand up and be counted."
Quins beat Bath 14-6 at the Stoop on Saturday thanks to a second-half try from fit-again forward Maurie Fa'asavalu, who came off the bench to add to nine points from the boot of fly half Evans.
Botha also identified Evans as Quins’ most dangerous weapon, suggesting that if Sarries can stop the Kiwi fly half from conducting proceedings then his side will be well-placed to complete a double over the west Londoners.
But Botha doesn’t believe that whoever wins the match is in the box seat to win the Aviva Premiership final back at Twickenham on May 26.
"Nick Evans is probably the main threat," he added.
"He’s the guy that orchestrates that team and pulls the strings for them and if Quins are going to have a good game and play well then it’s fair to say that Nick Evans is going to have a good game.
"Alex Goode against Mike Brown at full-back will be a good match-up, so will Jordan Turner-Hall against Brad Barritt in the centres.
"And then Matt Stevens against Joe Marler will be one to watch in the front row – there will be battles all over the pitch.
"I don’t think that the match will have any bearing on the eventual final – there’s still a lot of rugby to be played but getting those points is vital with a home semi-final at stake."
If you buy a ticket for this year's Aviva Premiership Final on 26 May you will receive a free rugby shirt. Go to www.premiershiprugby.com/freeshirt to buy yours