Fired-up Sarries aiming to heal last year’s scars

WITH Saracens’ three heartaches last season still fresh in the memory, lock Mouritz Botha insists everyone at the club is determined to ensure history does not repeat itself – starting with the LV= Cup.

Despite promising so much, Sarries finished empty handed last term, losing at the semi-final stage of the Aviva Premiership, Heineken and LV= Cup. The latter defeat was particularly galling as they fell 21-15 to a Sale Sharks side they had already beaten home and away in the league.

Saracens, who host Newcastle on Sunday, have already opened a six-point gap in pool one but Botha predicts their blistering form will continue as they aim to banish last season’s nightmares.

“We definitely feel as though we have the squad to do a job in any competition, and at Saracens we want to win every game,” he said.

“Everyone here wants to put right what happened last season. We lost in all three semi-finals and even though we did well to get that far we felt as though we should have got our hands on some silverware. But this year is all new and we’ve been going well in all competitions. Hopefully that can continue against Newcastle.”

By contrast, defending champions Harlequins have started their campaign with two defeats but head coach John Kingston, whose side travel to Leicester, is confident their youngsters have gained valuable experience.

“We are not in a position to qualify this time around,” said Kingston. “But November was great for the club and it allowed us to give game-time to a number of players in a competition above the standard of the A-league.”

London Wasps host London Irish in a capital derby with both sides still confident of making the knockout stages.

Be part of the rugby family at the LV= Cup Final at Sandy Park, Exeter on 16 March. Tickets now available: www.ticketmaster.co.uk