Quins have the quality
Our rugby union expert David Gee is backing Harlequins in Sunday's Aviva Premiership clash against Saracens.
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The Aviva Premiership takes the spotlight once again after this year's Six Nations tournament and there will be a few battered egos among those members of the England camp whose Grand Slam dreams were shattered by Wales in Cardiff last weekend.
All eyes will be firmly on Allianz Park on Sunday as Saracens take on Harlequins in a top of the table clash that will either send the home side clear at the summit or muddy the waters even further if Quins record an away victory.
As is the norm in English club rugby, the better sides are the ones that are penalised the most when the international season begins and Sarries' fans will be breathing a huge sigh of relief as they welcome back the likes of Alex Goode, Chris Ashton, Brad Barritt, Owen Farrell and Mako Vunipola to their squad. Add to this the return of Scotland captain Kelly Brown and you begin to realise the strength in depth that the current league leaders possess, especially as they have the all-time Premiership top scorer in Charlie Hodgson on the bench.
Quins too can welcome back a plethora of talent as they set their sights on a return to the top of the table and they will be buoyed by landing their first knockout cup competition since 1991 following last weekend's victory in the LV Cup. Mike Brown, Danny Care, Joe Marler and skipper Chris Robshaw all return from England duty to start for the defending champions.
Despite playing their 'home' games at five different venues so far this season (Twickenham, Wembley, Vicarage Road, stadiummk and Allianz Park), Saracens have performed remarkably well and would have had a 100% record save for their 9-9 draw against Leicester back in September.
However, apart from a blip away to Exeter in October, Quins have either won their away games or been beaten narrowly and you get the impression that if they do lose this match on Sunday, then it won't be by many.
Saracens came out on top the last time these sides met back in September at the Stoop but it could have been a difference story had Quins' fly-half Nick Evans taken his chances with the boot. Evans is normally a very solid kicker which made it all the more baffling why he only converted roughly half of his chances. Contrast this with Farrell who was flawless from the tee and you quickly conclude that these penalty chances made all the difference. If Evans has got his kicking boots on - and there's no reason he won't - then there is very little between these two sides, regardless of home advantage.
Hence, the play has to be to side with Quins getting five points from their title rivals. There won't be much in it and the away side could even spring a minor surprise if getting the rub of the green. The inclement weather may also play a part and if it does, this match is nailed-on to be tight.