Fixtures - Top Bar

Ahsee Tuala targeting Harlequins’ ‘key man’ Ben Botica

Ahsee Tuala believes Northampton Saints must target Harlequins’ ‘key man’ Ben Botica as both sides look to press their top-four credentials with five rounds remaining in Sunday’s Aviva Premiership Rugby showdown at Franklin’s Gardens.

Both sides suffered set-backs last weekend – Botica’s five penalties could not rescue Quins against a hungry Worcester Warriors side at the stoop, while Henry Slade inspired Exeter Chiefs to a second-half fightback that downed Saints at Sandy Park.

Both sides are within touching distance of fourth-placed Leicester Tigers, but Northampton edged a close encounter 27-23 at the Stoop in February and they have won three of their last four – including a shuddering 20-15 win away to the champions Saracens at Allianz Park

Sunday sees fifth versus sixth at Franklin’s Gardens and Tuala acknowledges that there is a great deal on the line for both sides, with Saints’ top-four hopes resting on shutting down kiwi Botica.

“Harlequins have a good side, they will probably be welcoming back all their internationals, but I think their key man is Ben Botica,” the Samoan international said.

“Once he gets a bit of confidence he carries their team around the park very well.

“We just need to concentrate on ourselves, they have good players across the board. They are strong team and there is a lot to play for.

“Any team which is coming from a loss is going to be more fired up for the following week, but we’re trying to make the top four and so are they, it is going to be a good physical game. 

“If we win our home games we have a good chance, we are just looking forward to the challenge on Sunday.”

Jim Mallinder has the luxury of welcoming back internationals George North, Kieran Brookes and Dylan Hartley into the camp. 

England captain Hartley is unavailable because of injury, but North and Brookes both start, with Tuala admitting the three had brought a lot of energy into the week’s training.

He said: “It has been a huge couple of weeks for them winning the Grand Slam and the Six nations. They have brought a lot of energy.

“It has been great to have George [North] back from Wales too as he’s obviously been playing really well.”

If you want to be at the world's biggest club rugby final, this year's Aviva Premiership Rugby Final on 28 May, tickets are still available from premiershiprugby.com/final.

Latest News

AUDIO: Post match Aviva Premiership reaction to Saracens 27 Bristol 9

Russell Hargreaves looks back on events at Allianz Park, before speaking to retiring Sarries legends Neil de Kock and Kelly…

Match Report: Leicester Tigers 41 Sale Sharks 18

Freddie Burns gave a starring performance in his final home appearance for Leicester Tigers to put them on brink of qualification…

Match Report: Exeter Chiefs 36 Northampton Saints 12

Exeter Chiefs became the first Aviva Premiership Rugby side to secure seven straight bonus-point wins with their biggest ever victory…

Match Report: Saracens 27 Bristol Rugby 9

Saracens overcame a slow first half to sign off their departing club legends in style with a bonus-point Aviva Premiership…

Late change to Northampton Saints squad

Tom Wood is a late withdrawal from today's Northampton Saints team that is playing Exeter Chiefs. Christian Day comes into…

Christian Day

Match Reaction: Newcastle Falcons 16 Worcester Warriors 14

Worcester Warriors director of rugby Gary Gold was left stunned and disappointed after Newcastle Falcons scrum-half Sonatane Takulua struck late…

Match Reaction: Harlequins 32 Wasps 13

Harlequins fly-half Nick Evans signed off from the Stoop with a majestic performance as he kicked 22 points against Wasps…

Match Report: Newcastle Falcons 16 Worcester Warriors 14

Sonatane Takulua scored all of Newcastle Falcons' points - including a late converted try - to down a spirited Worcester…

Match Report: Harlequins 32 Wasps 13

Nick Evans capped a memorable final appearance for Harlequins at the Twickenham Stoop by scoring 22 points as they downed…

Alafoti Faosiliva commits future to Worcester Warriors

Samoa international Alafoti Faosiliva will continue his Sixways career after committing his future to the Club. The 31-year-old arrived at…

Alafoti Faosiliva

AUDIO: Preview of this weekend’s Aviva Premiership action

It's the penultimate round of regular-season matches in the Aviva Premiership this weekend - Russell Hargreaves has the details.

Saracens name side to face Bristol Rugby

Saracens have named their team to face Bristol in round 21 of the Aviva Premiership on Saturday at Allianz Park,…

Schalk Brits

Northampton Saints team news versus Exeter Chiefs

The Northampton Saints team has been named for the Aviva Premiership Round 21 trip to Exeter. Injuries to Louis Picamoles…

JJ Hanrahan

Garvey to start for Bath Rugby in West Country derby

Matt Garvey will make his first start for Bath Rugby since January in the West Country Aviva Premiership derby against…

Matt Garvey