Joe Marler insists Harlequins are determined to head into the Aviva Premiership semi-finals in winning form – and he expects Northampton Saints to want to do the same when they meet on Saturday.
Reigning champions Quins welcome the Saints to the Twickenham Stoop with both sides having already secured their semi-final place, but England international Marler doesn't believe it will lessen the intensity of the game in any way.
After a slight dip in form that saw Conor O'Shea's side lose back-to-back games against league leaders Saracens and Gloucester Rugby, Marler believes Quins are nearing the best form once more and he wants that to continue against the Saints, live on ESPN.
"We had a bit of a dip in form after the Six Nations and had a bit of a losing streak but we went away for a week as a group and pulled ourselves together, and now we have started getting some results on board again," said the 22-year-old.
"We have had a good training week and are all now looking forward to facing the Saints.
"They have a big pack of forwards and unless you front up and stop them you will get beaten. There can be no let up because if you do against a top-four side they will punish you and we don't want that going into the semi-finals.
"Up front this is going to be a really tough game, and they have got some good backs as well so it should be an exciting match to be a part of."
Both sides look likely to face away semi-finals, though there is a slim possibility that either of them could overhaul second-placed Leicester Tigers. For that to happen however, the Tigers must be heavily beaten at home to London Irish, while both Quins and Saints would need a five-point victory.
Avoiding each other in the semi-finals does open up the possibility they could yet meet again in the Aviva Premiership Rugby Final at Twickenham on May 25.
The Saints will arrive at the Stoop in confident mood having lost just one of their last six Aviva Premiership matches and prop Alex Waller insists the nightmare of last year’s 25-23 semi-final loss still lingers around the club, but hopefully not for much longer.
"I think last year and the Quins semi-final when we lost right in the last few minutes is still fresh in people’s minds so we have some wrongs to right from that game,” Waller said.
“And although we do have a play-off spot but we want to build a bit of momentum and will be going all out to get one over Quins.
“You do want fresh legs and fresh minds for a semi-final but at the same time you want to head into it on form and a win over Quins will be a boost towards that.”
(Twickenham Stoop, 2.30pm)
Referee: Tim Wigglesworth (66th Premiership game)
Assistant Referees: Andrew Pearce & Gareth Copsey. TMO: David Grashoff.
Live on ESPN HD