Phil Dowson says he is ‘pretty sure’ Harlequins will make the Premiership top four this season – and has warned Saints they will also be desperate to seize their Amlin Challenge Cup chance.
Quins head to Franklin’s Gardens on Friday night with hopes of securing a semi-final win that would keep their chances of winning a fourth Challenge Cup alive.
Conor O’Shea has selected a strong side for the clash, with England regulars Joe Marler, Chris Robshaw, Danny Care and Mike Brown all starting.
Quins come into the game on the back of a 24-20 league win against Leicester last weekend, which leaves them six points adrift of the Premiership top four with two games to go.
And Dowson said: “They’ve come to form at exactly the right time, which is often what Leicester do.
“They’ve made a run for the top four, I’m pretty sure they’ll make it, and they’ve got an opportunity for silverware in the Amlin, as we do.
“They’re an outstanding outfit, Conor O’Shea knows his stuff and gets them in the best position to challenge for these trophies.
“We need to be on our mettle to stand up to that.”
Dowson will captain Saints against Quins and he is keen to help his side secure a shot at the May 23 Cardiff showpiece.
The 32-year-old flanker knows silverware is what it’s all about and is his desire is increased by the LV= Cup final disappointment at Exeter in March.
“Once you get to a final there’s no guarantees,” said Dowson. “We saw that down at Exeter and we have to learn lessons from that day.
“We want to win everything we play in. In an ideal world we’d be in the semi-final of the Heineken Cup, but that hasn’t happened.
“We’re in the semi-finals of the Amlin and we’re hugely positive about it. We want to go on and win the tournament.
“We know we have to take one step at a time and that first step is Quins.”