Bristol boss Pat Lam hit out at Premiership Rugby’s decision to grant a postponement of Sale’s fixture against Worcester after seeing his side secure a place in next weekend’s play-offs.

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The Bears brushed aside London Irish 36-7 to secure a bonus-point victory which, combined with Bath’s failure to beat Saracens, means Bristol are now assured of a play-off berth along with Exeter and Wasps.

It remains to be seen who will claim the last remaining spot, though, after Sale’s match against Worcester was called off after a number of the Sharks squad tested positive for coronavirus.

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That match will now be played on Wednesday, subject to stringent retesting, and a Sale win would see them replace Bath in the top four.

Bristol director of rugby Lam said: “The biggest shock was that were 19 positive tests in their camp, not just one or two and that has to call into question the behaviour of the group.

“We have all made massive sacrifices in our life during this crisis and you would feel bad if you transmit this infection to your opponents so I have sympathy for my former club, Northampton, who had to cancel their fixture with Gloucester.”

Northampton withdrew from their match against Gloucester due to a number of Saints players self-isolating following Tuesday’s clash with Sale, with Gloucester being handed a 20-0 walkover win.

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Lam added: “When I played with Newcastle, we won here in the final round of fixtures to secure the Premiership title and it’s always been the case that all the fixtures on the final day take place at the same time.

“I would now be getting back on the bus to start preparing for our semi-final opponents but I can’t do that until Wednesday evening as I don’t know who they will be.

“It’s crazy; none of us should be in this situation as a lot of clubs have been affected by this.”

Lam’s mood was undoubtedly tempered by his side’s qualification, which was not confirmed until news of Bath’s 17-17 draw at Saracens had come through with Bristol not securing their bonus-point target until four minutes were left on the clock.

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Semi Radradra, Ben Earl, Harry Thacker and Will Capon crossed for the Bears, who were also awarded a penalty try. Max Malins added the rest of Bristol’s points with a penalty and three conversions.

Irish could only respond with a second-half try from Ollie Hassell-Collins which Paddy Jackson converted.

Lam said: “We controlled the game well up until half-time, then for the 30 minutes afterwards, we did everything that we shouldn’t.

“We gave away soft penalties but we worked our way through it and came on strong at the end.

“After our bonus-point try, I watched Bath’s game on TV for the final minutes.

“I’m extremely proud as we’ve reached our target in just a three-year period. Three years ago I was standing on Championship pitches but now we’ve reached a European final and a Premiership semi-final.

“It’s no fluke as we now expect to be in games that matter and finals on a regular basis.”

London Irish skipper Matt Rogerson felt his side contributed to their own downfall.

He said: “A few areas let us down especially inaccuracies and ill-discipline. That meant we were pinned down in our half and against a side as good as Bristol, it’s almost impossible to get out from there.

“We kicked a lot in the first half so we tried to keep the ball more in the second half. We put their defence under a bit of pressure but missed a couple of opportunities in their 22.”

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