Guest Blogger and Bristol fan Steve Dowle share his thoughts on the game and Bristol’s season.

So I’ve been thinking about Friday’s match, about the other results this weekend, the state of the universe generally. 

High-level thoughts about Friday… This was the first “nilling” we’ve had for a long, long time. They were last season’s European and Premiership champions, or were they? No Farrell, no Goode, no Brits, no Ashton, Wiggleworth and Bosch on the bench. They were undoubtedly deserved winners, but really didn’t need the ref’s help to beat us, so I wish he’d been a bit more balanced at the 50/50’s. 

Detailed thoughts… 

We lost too many lineouts, even given the opposition was Otoje and Kruis (probably the best second row pairing in the UK by some distance). We were trying to be too complicated. When we started losing lineouts, why didn’t we switch to the safe option of the front instead of persevering with the long throw? 

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We were outscrummed, but actually considering the opposition forwards, did well I thought. To remind you of the Saracens “cast”: Mako Vunipola, Jamie George, Petrus De Plessis, Maro Itoje, George Kruis, Jackson Wray, Schalk Burger, Billy Vunipola. A seriously class act, so all things considered, we did well there. But we DID turn over too much ball at the breakdown.

Pace of game. We are a couple of metres off the Premiership standard we’ve played against so far. We need to find a way to increase the pace, especially at the breakdown, getting the ball wide. Basically playing the simple game, but playing it fast. The multiple chargedowns we experienced were symptoms of taking too long.

Kicking game. Improved from last week, but that’s because Jarvis came on and pushed Pisi into the centre, away from out-half. Pisi showed on a SINGLE break what he can do if he runs and keeps the ball in hand. WHY does he insist on kicking the ball (badly) back to the opposition when he can run like that? 

Despite giving away 5 tries, I would say that defensively we improved again. The half-time score of 10 nil was certainly acceptable. The second half saw Sarries up the intensity and us get tired. Their bench had immense impact. Our bench doesn’t have the same depth. But an improvement.

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I didn’t expect us to win any games in the first five. We came close against Quins and should have had that one, but seeing us lose so badly game after game is getting wearisome. 

Next week it’s Newcastle (8th) and the mid-point 6th round of the first half of the league games. They beat Gloucester, they lost to Worcester, not scoring any tries today. Hopefully we’ll have our strongest team out and we should have a chance to compete. But even if we win with a 4 try bonus point, we will still be bottom. But win we must! Forget the 4 try BP, we just need to get a win under our belts. 

Games to come after that? Bath (3), Leicester (4) and Sale (5), Gloucester (9) and Worcester (10). If we can get the likes of Henson and Lemi back match fit, then with our new Aussie signing from early November, we have to consider that we’ll be in with a fighting chance against some of these.

So, fighting to keep the confidence up, looking forward to the Newcastle result, though with more than a little anxiety and logically thinking that the remaining 5 games offer more hope than the first 5. 

All together now: “C’MON BRIS!!!”

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