Following a mammoth extra-time win over Bordeaux at the weekend, Pat Lam and his Bristol Bears take on Leicester Tigers midweek. Bristol sits fifth in the Premiership, likely needing maximum points from their final games to get a play-off berth.
David Challis, caught up with Pat Lam to get all the insight from the Bristol Bears camp as they prepare for a historic few weeks. He spoke about recovering from an extra-time victory, managing his squad going forwards as well as his side’s chances of gaining a top-four spot come Sunday afternoon.
Lam unhappy with Bordeaux performance
Despite a famous win at the weekend, Lam stated his slight disappointment at the overall performance. He noted that he “certainly wasn’t satisfied with some of our performance.”
He also pointed out that “we almost blew that game, we’d needed to address it.” As a result, his side has conducted a thorough review of what they can learn from that game.
A main point of contention was the way the Bears defended, especially in the first half. Lam has asked his players to look at the way they performed in extra time and try to take that into future games.
“If we can defend like this after 95 minutes there’s no reason why we can’t defend like this after 5 minutes.”
Lam did praise his side for their handling of the game as a whole though. Going to extra-time is not a normal state of affairs. Lam felt on the whole “they handled it well.”
Selection headaches for final Premiership rounds
As a result, of his side’s 100-minute effort at the weekend Lam has had to make some tough selection calls. Semi Radradra drops to the bench despite such fantastic performances in his short Bristol career.
Lam stated that he “wanted to go as strong as we can following recovery”. He also pointed out that he has total confidence in his side. He said, “I believe we’ve got a team that’s strong enough”.
His side also welcomes back Sam Bedlow after a long time out injured. It will be his first appearance since the restart of rugby in August. Niyi Adeolokun will also make his first Premiership appearance since joining the club on a short term deal.
— Bristol Bears (@BristolBears) September 29, 2020
Lam plays down Top Four expectations
Previously Lam had stated that not winning the Premiership would be a disappointment. Naturally, that was a somewhat flippant remark and not meant in total seriousness. However, his approach and expectations do seem to have softened a touch.
Perhaps the prospect of a European trophy has changed his view. Maybe it is simply the chances of his side getting to the top four are now small enough that he wishes not to heap pressure on his players.
However, it was still surprising to hear Lam say “I think it’s fantastic what we’ve done to even be here”. Quite a change of tune from his remarks earlier in the season.
No doubt Bristol have overachieved by almost all measures except maybe the ones held by those inside the camp. As the season comes to a close Lam is more likely trying to show to the outside world what a season they have had. Whilst before he had to fight to get his side noticed.
In any case, Lam noted his excitement at what promises to be an exciting final few games of regular season rugby. He said that “we just hope come Sunday afternoon we’ve done enough”. As will all Bristol fans hoping to return to the big dance of the Premiership playoffs.
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