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'I haven’t got a problem with what Saracens did... we would probably have done the same'

By PA
Press Association

Bristol’s director of rugby, Pat Lam, refused to blame Saracens’ decision to rest several players for their clash with Bath as their opponents scuppered Bears’ hopes of Heineken Champions Cup rugby for next season.

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Despite Bristol’s 36-21 bonus-point victory over Gloucester, Bath overtook them in the Gallagher Premiership table to finish eighth, with both sides totalling 47 points but Bath edging ahead with a superior points difference as they demolished under-strength Saracens 61-29.

In a dramatic finale, Bristol received news that a late try from Bath had overtaken them before a last-minute yellow card for Charles Piutau for a deliberate knock-on saw a penalty try awarded to Gloucester and Bristol’s afternoon was wrecked.

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Lam said: “When we saw the Bath selection all the focus was on our game.

“We knew we had to get four tries because they were going to get that and that game could run away. We did tremendously well to stay with our game and build the score.

“The penalty try Charles went for it because we had to and we knew it was our last chance. It was always going to be tough when we saw the Saracens selection.

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“In the game we were all checking, it was an unusual situation. He could kick the ball out, we win the game, it’s all over, then Bath score and we lose by three. At that stage we had to play because we were behind.

“It has been an unusual season. People look at the outcome and the final placings but there is a lot of good in what we have done.

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“I haven’t got a problem with what Saracens did. When you have done what they did you have earned the right to do it, so I have got no issue with Saracens and we would probably have done the same thing. We shouldn’t have been in that situation.”

Semi Radradra scored two tries on his farewell appearance for Bears, while Sia Naulago, Magnus Bradbury and Harry Thacker were also on the try-scoring sheet, with A.J. MacGinty adding four conversions and a penalty.

Ollie Thorley and Jonny May scored Gloucester’s tries in addition to the penalty try award, with Adam Hastings and Billy Twelvetrees each adding a conversion.

It was Gloucester’s sixth consecutive defeat, with only won one since the turn of the year, and the end of the season cannot come quick enough for them.

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Head coach, George Skivington said: “In the first half it was the story of the last five or six weeks, lots of line breaks and not enough tries. We probably need to take three of those line breaks and then the second half is a good even game.

“I thought Bristol were more clinical, particularly in those first two minutes, and that was the difference. We knew they would have a fast start, we talked about it all week, but ultimately we couldn’t contain it as they came to fling the ball around.

“There was some good stuff from us in attack, we have been building it all season, but it has been too little too late. You have got to finish your chances as well and that is something we will address in the off-season.

“Our set-piece has dropped off towards the end of the season and that is something we are going to have to look at. Maybe we have been spending too much time on attack in training.

“There are lots to address in the off-season. The objective at the start of the season was to focus on our attack, get the ball to the fast players and make line breaks, but it doesn’t matter if you don’t finish them off.”

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