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Author

Will Carpenter

writes

Posted Tuesday, October 15th 2019

Winters predicts thrilling derby encounter

Roy Winters knows as well as anyone the emotion and intensity of a West Country derby, having himself helped architect victories over Bath in 2005 and 2006.

A baptism of fire saw the club legend of 188 appearances make his bow in front of a record crowd at the Memorial Stadium, as Bristol made a dream return to Premiership action with a 19-16 victory in September 2005.

Fifteen months later, he was a starter as Bristol triumphed 16-6 front of a Premiership record crowd at Ashton Gate.

And after another derby humdinger last August, Winters is expecting another titanic tussle on Friday.

“It’s such a different beast to any other rivalry or fixture,” he said.

“With some rivalries, you can normally have a bit of banter around it, but these were completely different. Guys you get on well with and played against many times, turn into different animals when you played against them in a derby.

“I’ve seen players you wouldn’t expect get involved in a bit of niggle. You can’t put your finger on what it is about the rivalry that has such an impact on players - the thing that puts people in that frame of mind.

Roy Winters played 188 times for Bristol.

“That game in 2006/07, it didn’t disappoint. It had everything a derby would want – it was a confrontational, close game and only had ten points in it. There have been some great players play in this fixture, so it really is very special.

“I think the history side of things, the players do get reminded about that in the lead up to these games. It means more, and it means everything to the supporters.

“If I was picking a winner, naturally, I’d go with the Bears. All of the games I’ve been involved in have been very close, so I’d say there will be less than one score in it, and that’s as much as I’m willing to put my neck on the line.”

Winters retired in April 2013 but remains a staunch Bristol supporter - and after an impressive return to the top flight in 2018/19, the player described by chairman, Chris Booy as ‘one of the all-time greats’, is impressed by the club’s progress under Pat Lam.

“I think the club is in a really positive position and moving in the right direction. It’s a great squad and that has been built on.

“The Premiership is such a strong competition nowadays – you’ve obviously got Saracens and Exeter at the top, but as you’ve seen recently, anyone can beat anyone on their day.

“It’s exciting to see and I’m looking forward to the new season, starting with the game against Bath.”