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Botha only has eyes for home play-off prize

PUBLISHED: 08:05 07 March 2013

Saracens' Mouritz Botha

Saracens' Mouritz Botha

PA Archive/Press Association Images

Saracens lock Mouritz Botha is targeting a top-two finish after moving to the summit of the Premiership with a 35-14 win over London Welsh but is not concerned whether it is first or second.

The top four at the end of the regular season go into the play-offs with the table-toppers playing the fourth placed side at home and the second placed side facing the third place side.

With five games to go, Sarries sit on top of the tree and are four points clear of London rivals Harlequins and a further point ahead of Leicester, who they beat the week before.

And Botha, who has won 10 caps for England, is only focused on maintaining their standards.

“We’ve just got to keep playing well and building on our performances,” he told London24. “The rest will take care of itself.

“First or second doesn’t really matter to us. We’re aiming for a home semi so it doesn’t really matter.

“We’ve just got to focus on what we do and try and keep winning, game by game, and not look too far ahead.

“It’s pleasing [being top of the league]. The main thing is we keep winning and playing well really.”

Director of rugby Mark McCall is pleased to see his side at the top of the Premiership pile and hopes Saracens can stay there.

But the most pleasing thing about the win over London Welsh, was that his side picked up 15 points from their run of four Premiership games in a row before a three week break.

“We hope to stay at the top,” he said but then admitted that a home semi-final is the priority. “It’s a good position to be in but we’ve got Quins here next which is going to be a huge game.

“Having lost to London Irish and played so poorly, to come back with three bonus point wins is a heck of an effort from the whole squad, we’re chuffed to have got the 15 points.”

Saracens’ next Premiership game is at home to second placed Harlequins on March 24 and Botha admits that the onus will be on them.

“It’s probably more pressure on us [as we’re top of the league],” he said. “First or second doesn’t matter. We need to try and keep playing well.”

Saracens have now settled into their new ground, Allianz Park, and Botha is enjoying the style of rugby the artificial pitch produces.

“It’s brilliant,” he said. “It’s a nice pitch to play on and even nicer for the fans to have a ground they can call their own.

“It’s really nice to play on. It’s like [playing in] pre-season when the pitches are hard. Everyone wants to run the ball in hand.”

Saracens travel to the Salford City Stadium to face Sale Sharks in the LV= Cup semi final on Sunday as they look to win the competition for the first time since 1998.

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