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Will Carpenter


Posted Tuesday, October 16th 2018

Zebre (a) press in brief: five things we learned

Assistant coach, Conor McPhillips and flanker, Jake Heenan faced the media ahead of Saturday's European Challenge Cup game against Zebre at Stadio Lanfranchi - here's what we learned from this week's press session. 

Away day challenge

Jake Heenan says Bristol Bears are expecting a stern test from Zebre on home soil and believes they would be naive to think any differently.

"I think they were probably a bit loose on the weekend and we would be very naive to expect that over there.

“They will look after the ball a bit better, they will be a bit more physical, and they’ll still bring that element of wanting to play and wanting to run the ball.”

First-half firepower

Conor McPhillips praised the Bears' first-half display, after they ran in six tries in a blistering 40 minutes. 

"We were pretty pleased with the first half," said McPhillips.

"I think having a lot of changes from the previous week and a lot of guys getting their first starts for the Bears, it was important that we showed that cohesion - and when we scored those tries, we looked good."

Second-half stumble

“There were plenty of positives but the frustrating thing for us was our second-half performance," continued McPhillips.

"We came out early and probably could have had a score – but we didn’t take that and from there, our discipline and errors let Zebre creep back in.

"So, pleased enough with the performance, but as an 80-minute performance, it’s not where we need to be at."

Heenan added: “We were 30-points up and they still looked like they wanted to come back into the game, so that’s the challenge over there."

Pressure cooker

“We created some good try-scoring opportunities on the weekend, so we need to stick on the ball and execute those chances a bit better and keep the pressure on them for longer periods of time," said Heenan.

“We still have a bit more to give there - I think we were a bit loose as well (last Saturday).

“There is always the danger in those games that you get a bit loose yourself, so I think we need to look after the ball a bit better."

Staking a claim

McPhillips insisted this current block of cup fixtures is the perfect opportunity for players to stake a claim for selection when the Gallagher Premiership returns on November 18th.

“That’s what this block is about. We’ve spoken all summer about everyone getting a chance and the training is really competitive.

"Everyone wants to play games, and it comes back to their performance being their currency.

“So, guys will get chances and if they nail it, well then they put themselves on the selection table and that’s what all these guys are keen to do.”

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