MIKE BROWN: I support my former Harlequins to win the Premiership – confidence is their super strength and they don’t believe anyone can beat them
- Harlequins are full of confidence and able to win the Premiership
- Both play-off semi-finals will represent a real clash of styles
- Northampton is playing fast, but Leicester may be too hard
- Intriguingly, the Saracens’ pragmatism towards the expansiveness of the Harlequins is intriguing
You can’t ask for much more than two local derbys for the playoffs, although I think this year’s Premiership winner will come from the London side of the draw.
Both games will be a real clash of styles. You have the pragmatism of Leicester and Saracens against the expansiveness of Northampton and Harlequins.
I love watching the Northampton game. The identities of offloading, fast pace, and running from everywhere are evolving.
I believe my old Harlequins team will win the Premiership – confidence is their great strength
However, with the advantage of their own hosts, it is difficult to see Leicester lose. Welford Road is a tricky place to play Northampton open-label rugby as the pitch is a bit smaller and the crowd is right above you. If the Saints are losing out on what they may be guilty of, they will play straight into Leicester’s hands.
Steve Borthwick came to Leicester and did a great job. They definitely deserve the number one spot beyond their early form. They went back to their set pieces and will try to strangle Northampton with their set pieces and their kick game.
Steve Borthwick did an excellent job at Leicester – they deserve their number one spot
Derby East Midlands is always a great atmosphere, but the Saracen vs. Harlequin rivalry has an advantage at the moment. It’s the match of the weekend.
When I played for Quins our games were usually close until the second half when they landed a bench full of international players. It left a bit of a bitter taste so there was always some spice. These games have always been a step forward in intensity. Danny Care and Billy Vunipola were jumping at each other’s throats. We celebrated these victories more than any other because we respected the strength of their squad.
Northampton is playing fast, but the home advantage could lead to Leicester’s advantage
If the Saracens can capture the Harlequins by a few percent from their game, they can punish them
Trust is Harlequin’s super strength, and they don’t believe anyone can defeat them. However, if the Saracens can drop them a few percent from the game, they will have ruthless effectiveness to punish them. Both teams have been there and have done so in the last few leagues and I think the winner will raise the trophy.
It may sound harsh in Leicester, but they look more beaten than at the start of the season. I’m going to the Leicester-Quins Final – a 2012 replay – and I know too well to never bet against my old team.