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Will Carpenter

Will Carpenter writes

Posted Tuesday, December 18th 2018

Sale Sharks press in brief: five things we learned

Head coach, Pat Lam and prop, John Afoa faced the media ahead of Saturday's Gallagher Premiership clash with Sale Sharks - here's what we learned from this week's press session.


Feeling good

John Afoa said confidence was high in the Bristol camp following hard-fought victories over La Rochelle and Gloucester United last week.

“We’ve had another good week – from the senior squad in La Rochelle to the Shield team last night – and we head into Saturday full of confidence," he said.

“We’ve got a real good understanding of how we want to play, and we have been able to execute that well at the weekends.

“The weeks keep coming and coming and Sale away will be tough, but we get our stuff done during the week, we work hard, and we give ourselves a chance.”



Repeating the feat

Both Lam and Afoa have challenged Bristol to repeat their defensive feat this weekend, after shutting out high-flying La Rochelle last weekend. 

"John Muldoon with defence, he’s done a great job and the boys responded really well. It was a big defensive effort to keep those guys out," said Lam. 

“Holding La Rochelle to three points shows game plan and mentality and that’s what we’re going to need again this weekend," added Afoa. 


Depth perception

Lam hailed the current competition for places in his Bristol Bears squad and emphasised the importance of having strength in depth, with performances in Europe giving the head coach food for thought.

"I think the best thing about the performances of the guys in the European rugby is that it just creates more and more competition and I’ve said right from day one – competition is crucial for this team to be successful," he said.

"I’m pleased that more and more guys are taking on board the learnings and coming through nicely. You’ve got to feel heat for your position and that drives things."


Set-piece significance

Afoa also highlighted the set-piece as an area of importance this weekend.

“Our set-piece has been reasonably good this year. It’s a massive basic of the game, no matter what level you’re playing at," he said.

“As always, it will be important this weekend and we need to make sure we get the ball, have plenty of it and try and put them under pressure.”


Shark tank

Pat Lam says Bristol are relishing the challenge of taking on Sale Sharks this weekend, with Afoa highlighting the home side's threats.

"It’s a big challenge to go up there but it’s one we’re looking forward to," said Lam. "The difficulty this week is which is the best group to go out for this game, but that’s exactly what I want.

“If you look through the Sale team, they’ve got some serious talent there in both the forwards and the backs," added Afoa. 

“We need to put them under pressure, stick to what we’re trying to do and put our plan in place."


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