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Will Carpenter


Posted Thursday, December 12th 2019

Press bitesize: Stade Francais (a) - European Challenge Cup

Assistant Coach, Conor McPhillips and scrum half, Nic Stirzaker faced the media ahead of Saturday's European Challenge Cup clash with Stade Français at Stade Jean-Bouin.

Repeat the feat

Assistant coach, Conor McPhillips has challenged Bristol Bears to back up last weekend’s bonus-point victory at Ashton Gate, when his side head to Paris to face Stade Francais on Saturday (8pm KO GMT) in the European Challenge Cup.

“There are challenges attached to playing the same side back to back, but we’re kind of used to it now,” he said.

“It does shorten your week though, because your review becomes your preview. You always plan a couple of games ahead, but when it’s the same opposition, you’ll kind of have a plan where you’d expect things to work and if they don’t, you get to fix them straight away.

“The key thing for us is that we want those five points – if we sit on 20 points after four games, that puts us a long way to qualification. If we can tick that off, the key thing is home qualification, which means you probably need another win or two. So, five points is key this weekend and then we can sit over Christmas on 20 points and reassess in January.”

Fronting up

Nic Stirzaker says Bristol Bears will need to take the challenge head on at Stade Jean-Bouin on Saturday, and insists mindset will be key to success.

"We’re really excited to get over to France. It’s obviously a great opportunity for the squad and any English team to go over there and play in France, and we want to get five points and keep the momentum going. It’s unusual for both teams that we’ve had a good look at each other. We know for us, we’ll need to be better than we were last week, despite the result.

"Obviously, French teams pride themselves on how they play at home, so we’re really excited for the challenge and we’ll need to go over there and be really physical to come away with the win.

"I think the main is that you need to come with the right attitude when you play in France. They are really proud teams and they play well at home – so we’ll need to come right from the kick-off, with the right mindset, and really take it to them.”

French blueprint

McPhillips says the experience of winning at Brive last month will stand Bristol in good stead on Saturday.

“We had a good template going to Brive, where we put in a really good performance and kept them to nil, so the boys know what it takes to win away in France, and it’s about trying to implement that again. There will be no fear, because we’ve done it before and we’ve played the opposition before, so it’s exciting.

“Stade Francais have some exceptional individuals – guys with a lot of ‘X-factor’, and they are becoming a lot more cohesive now as a team under their new coaching setup. So, they will be a threat and it will be a tough ask away from home.

“I think we’ll need to improve (on last week). It was great to get the bonus point - we left it late, which wasn’t ideal, but the positive of that is we’ve shown late in games, we’re scoring and that’s testament to our fitness and the trust in our game plan."