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Will Carpenter

Will Carpenter writes

Posted Wednesday, February 3rd 2021

Afoa urges Bears to build on derby win

John Afoa believes the Bears will have to be inch-perfect when they face Sale Sharks at Ashton Gate on Friday night, in round eight of the Gallagher Premiership (7.45pm KO, live on BT Sport 1 HD).

Both sides were victorious on home soil when they met during the 2019/20 campaign, but the final meeting during the 2018/19 season finishing in a 20-20 draw – and Afoa knows his side will have to be ‘switched on.’

'A huge challenge'

“Sale are no joke – you look at their team and what they can do, how they play the game, it’s very different to what we’ve faced in the last couple of weeks.

“It’s going to be a real challenge for us. They are very stingy in defence, they’ve got some big carriers, and we’ve got to make sure we’re switched on.

“We’ve had a good couple of days so far, but we’ve got two days to prep now to make sure we are ready for Friday because the last couple of games have been really close at home and they’ve tucked us up in the away games.”

Afoa hailed his side’s attacking execution during the bonus-point victory over Bath in round seven but insists the second half showing has left them with a number of areas to improve on.

“The brand of rugby we played against Bath, for the large part of that first half and then into the second half, was really good.

'Room for improvement'

“We had a good prep building into those two weeks and then that Friday night game versus Bath. I was happy with the result and getting the five points that we wanted, but there was definitely stuff that we need to work on in the tail-end of the game.

“Some passes weren’t sticking and then we were starting to lose the breakdown a little bit – Bath are a good team and if they had pounced on a few of those opportunities and closed the gap up a little bit, the game could’ve been a little bit different.

“We were fortunate that we were able to hold strong in our D, but looking towards Sale, any kind of scraps like that, any penalties or loose balls, they are going to live on that and really apply some good pressure.

“Rugby is always a tough one, trying to nail that 80-minute performance, every team is trying to strive for it. But there are some key basics of our game, fundamental bits of our game that have got to be there every week, and maybe in that second half, with our ball control or our decision making at times, it wasn’t quite where it needed to be and against top teams in this competition, all of those pieces need to be there for the whole time.”


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