Champions Cup: Pat Lam feels a more ‘ruthless’ Bristol could be contenders

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Bristol Bears coach Pat Lam thinks his team would be Champions Cup contenders if they were more ruthless and clinical in their performances.

A convincing 52-21 bonus-point triumph over the Scarlets in Llanelli on Saturday rounded off Bristol’s pool matches.

Having already qualified for the last 16, Bristol strung together three quick tries to end the game with a convincing win.

Must be more ruthless

“We can be serious contenders (in Europe) if we are more ruthless,” Lam said.

“We showed 20 minutes of being ruthless today. Everyone wants to do the off-loads and run with the ball, but it’s that work off the ball that is really appreciated.

“The goal we set for these last two weeks was to get us into the round of 16, and now we put that away.

“We have a bye in the Premiership next weekend, which is perfect timing, and the players get a chance to recover, and then we come back and we begin our climb up that table by improving our performance.

“If we can improve our performance, the table will take care of itself, and we will be a better team coming back in April, which is what I am excited about.”

Bristol moved third in Pool B, although they will be overhauled by Munster if the Irish side defeat Wasps on Sunday and claim a bonus point.

Centres Semi Radradra and Ioan Lloyd scored early Bristol tries, yet it was not until the closing stages that they cut loose as a penalty try was followed by a rapid scoring burst.

Harry Thacker, Piers O’Conor and Ratu Naulago all touched down, before Radradra scored again, fly-half Callum Sheedy claimed a try, while also adding five conversions.

Lloyd, who missed out on a place in Wales’ Six Nations squad, was the game’s dominant figure before an ankle problem forced him off after 30 minutes.

Lam added: “I was really pleased for him. There is a lot of expectation, and being able to play in a number of positions.

“His defence is an area that has really improved. He is 20-years-old, and it is about building him as a rugby player.”

The Scarlets had their moments through tries from hooker Ryan Elias and full-back Johnny McNicholl, with Rhys Patchell booting three penalties and a conversion, but their European Cup campaign is over for another season.

Scarlets head coach Dwayne Peel said: “I am disappointed, because at 60 minutes we were in it, but I felt we gave away points far too easily.

“I think the lesson for us is that we can’t afford to give points away easy after we have worked hard for our points. That is the message we have given.

“(Conceding) 31 points in the last 20 minutes is pretty tough reading for us. The competition for us on the whole has been fractured, at best.

“I felt we fired shots and went after them with ball in hand. We did play some good stuff, and I think we were aggressive in defence at times, but we couldn’t sustain it. It is an 80-minute game.”

Tabai Matson tips Alex Dombrandt to shine for England

Meanwhile, Tabai Matson is backing Alex Dombrandt to do well for England after watching the 24-year-old score the decisive try for Harlequins in their 36-33 Champions Cup victory over Castres on Friday.

The number eight crossed for his third try when he dove over out wide in that game’s dying moments.

Quins had already advanced to the last 16 but their triumph over a strong Top 14 outfit sealed their fourth win as many matches during their Pool B campaign.

Dombrandt is expected to add to his four England caps during the upcoming Six Nations.

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