Brown: Saracens are determined to win Premiership semi-final this time
09:00 15 May 2014
PA Wire/Press Association Images
EXCLUSIVE: Flanker Kelly Brown says Saracens are determined to avoid a repeat of last season’s heartbreak in the Premiership semi-final.
Last term, Sarries finished top of the table in the regular season, earning a home match against fourth-placed Northampton at Allianz Park in the play-offs – but they lost 27-13.
So far, history has repeated itself this campaign, with Saracens coming first again and securing home advantage for their semi-final against fourth-placed Harlequins on Saturday – but Brown is keen for a different conclusion.
“Last year’s game was clearly disappointing – mainly because we didn’t really fire a shot at Northampton during that game,” he said. “We didn’t play as we can so we’re just looking at ourselves now and making sure that we play our game and play to the best of our ability.
“I think we’ve definitely improved since then. Obviously we’ve learned the lessons from that but we’ve also changed our attacking shape a little bit, which has resulted in scoring a lot more tries, and we’ve just evolved a bit more.
“We’ve had mainly the same group of players for four or five seasons and we’re just evolving and growing a bit every year.”
While Harlequins have finished three places and 20 points behind Saracens, they go into this weekend’s crunch clash with momentum after winning their last five Premiership games.
“It’s exciting,” said Brown. “Obviously Harlequins are on a very good run right now, they’re on the crest of a wave, so it’s going to be a big challenge for us but we’re in a good place as well so we’re really looking forward to the test.
“They’ve got a very strong side, they’ve got four or five English guys who did really well in the Six Nations. It’s a very big challenge but that’s the sort of test you want. You want to play against the best teams and Harlequins are certainly one of those.
“Whenever you play against Quins you’re expecting a tough game. They’re a side that plays a fast off-loading style, but they’re so much more than that now.
“They’ve got a good set piece, the defence is good and they’ve got a strong kicking game so they’ve got a very balanced all-round game and it’s just up to us to make sure that we try to impose ourselves on them and put them under a bit of pressure.”
Saracens’ own seven-match winning run was ended on Saturday as they lost 31-27 away at Leicester in their last game of the regular league season.
But Brown said: “I don’t think it really matters. If you actually watched the game the Sarries side that was out there was much-changed, there were a lot of young guys and we played for 35 minutes with 14 men after Justin Melck was wrongly sent off. All in all I think it was an absolutely fantastic performance.
“At this stage of the season it’s all about the games that actually count. The first nine months of the season are about setting yourself up well. We’ve done that, we’ve managed to mix and match the team and we’ve managed to rotate a bit so we’re at this stage - the big games, the games that count – with all the boys feeling pretty fresh.”