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Pat Lam proud that his team 'kept the foot on the throat'

By PA
BRISTOL, ENGLAND - APRIL 21: Bristol Bears' Director of Rugby Pat Lam during the Gallagher Premiership Rugby match between Bristol Bears and Newcastle Falcons at Ashton Gate on April 21, 2024 in Bristol, England.(Photo by Bob Bradford - CameraSport via Getty Images)

Bristol narrowly missed out on the Gallagher Premiership play-offs despite a 53-28 win over Harlequins but Pat Lam believes they are playing better than when they topped the table three years ago.

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Lam’s charges needed a bonus-point win and other results to go their way, with Sale Sharks’ win at Saracens costing them a place in the top four.

But three years on from finishing top of the pile – before famously losing to Quins in a semi-final where they led 28-0 – Bears scored seven tries in a romp at the Stoop.

Lam said: “I’m really proud of the boys. We knew all we could do was control what we could do.

“To get a record score for a Bristol team here at the Stoop is really pleasing. The type of rugby we played is why I’m really proud of the boys.

“Everyone reminds me about ‘Bristanbul’ (the semi-final loss) and what I loved most about that with 20 minutes is that we managed the game, kept the foot on the throat and didn’t allow them back in the game. Hopefully, it’s well and truly buried.

“The fact we are in the race after the last two seasons shows the progress. The rugby we have played since we played Bath in January, we’ve played some really good rugby.

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“I actually believe we are playing better rugby than three years ago when we were top of the table. We’ll continue to grow.”

Match Summary

0
Penalty Goals
2
4
Tries
7
4
Conversions
6
0
Drop Goals
0
90
Carries
155
6
Line Breaks
16
12
Turnovers Lost
17
9
Turnovers Won
6

The Bears led 26-14, only to see Quins fight back to take a lead for the first time. But the final 20 minutes belonged to the visitors, despite the loss of prop Ellis Genge.

The loosehead prop ended the game in a walking boot and on crutches after popping a calf in a scrum, putting his place on England’s tour of New Zealand this summer in doubt.

For Quins, defeat also ended their hopes of making the top four, with head coach Danny Wilson admitting that they have to improve defensively.

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The Stoop outfit have conceded a half-century in back-to-back games, struggling since defence coach Jerry Flannery departed to work with South Africa during the Six Nations period.

Wilson said: “The last two weeks, we have conceded 58 and 53 points. We scored four tries and we’re not even close.

“Fair play to Bristol, they ran everything, challenged us around the fringes, challenged us wide and we got cut to ribbons. Defensively we struggled.

“We did score four tries, but I think there was probably a bit of inaccuracy with some of our attack, some balls on the floor and so on.

“We knew we would have to score at least four tries to give ourselves a chance of winning and that’s where this narrative has to change.

“It’s not a representation of our season. It will sting now because we’ve failed to achieve our Premiership goal, but we did achieve our European goal – we got to the knockout stages and went further.

“We need to look at being better in these business-end games and the last two weeks, we haven’t done that.”

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