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Will Carpenter

Will Carpenter writes

Posted Wednesday, January 6th 2021

Bears ready for 'great test' - Lam

Pat Lam says the Bears are prepared for the ‘great test’ that awaits them at Sandy Park, as they gear up for Saturday’s top-of-the-table Gallagher Premiership clash (2pm KO, live on BT Sport HD).

The sides heads into the game level on points, with the Chiefs taking top spot on points difference, despite last weekend’s defeat to Wasps at the Ricoh Arena.

Every league match between the Bears and the Chiefs since Lam took over has been decided by five points or fewer – and the Director of Rugby is expecting another fascinating encounter this weekend.

'A big challenge'

“This is a big game; these are the games we want to be involved in,” he said. “Heading into Europe, there’s 20 points differential that separates us, so you go into the game knowing the winner goes to the top of the table. This is where we grow, these are the games.

“Exeter have been outstanding – we’re up against the domestic and European champions. There are so many great things in front of us, but again, we talked about challenges, this is a big challenge we face, and we’re excited by it.

“There’s no reason whatsoever that they won’t be up for it – it’s really going to come down to on the day, and every time we’ve played them since I’ve been here, it’s been a one-score game, so it’s a great test to look forward to.”

The Bears overcame a Covid-enforced front-row reshuffle to take all five points from the New Year’s Day fixture against Newcastle Falcons – and Lam was pleased with how his side dealt with the adversity.

'Overcoming adversity'

“Obviously, it was a challenging week, with the front rowers missing, but it was pleasing to see the boys that stepped up – and that’s what we’re about. It’s not about a 15 or a 23, it’s about the whole squad, it’s about the whole club, staff, players, everyone stepping up and doing their bit and it was great to come away with a well-earned five points.

“When Covid first happened, in March, we made a call that it’s going to be the team that adapts best, and that’s what our whole culture is based on.

“It’s about the challenges, the growth that comes from challenging times. We all get better when we get pressed and when we go through difficult times and when we do it together, it certainly helps the club – and that’s what we’ve seen, everyone’s talking about the growth that we’ve made, and it’s been excellent.

“As we, as a group, go through these times and we grow through losses that we’ve had, Covid, through disruptions, it’s about us learning from those moments and growing.”


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