Premiership: Pat Lam has ‘no issue’ with Saracens after Bath beat Bristol Bears to last Champions Cup spot

·3-min read
Pat Lam Credit: Alamy
Pat Lam Credit: Alamy

Pat Lam insists he “hasn’t got a problem” with Saracens’ team selection against Bath that played its part in Bristol Bears missing out on Champions Cup qualification.

The Bears did all they could on Saturday to seal the last remaining spot for elite European competition next term, beating Gloucester 36-21 with a bonus point.

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However, their rivals for eighth place, Bath, picked up a bonus-point victory of their own as they beat a second-string Saracens 61-29 at the Recreation Ground.

That ultimately meant Johann van Graan’s men secured Champions Cup rugby in 2023/24 after finishing above Bristol in the Premiership on points difference.

Was always going to be tough

Speaking after the game, Lam refused to blame Saracens’ decision to put out a weakened side as late drama in both games meant it was Bath who claimed the spot.

“When we saw the Bath selection all the focus was on our game,” he said.

“We knew we had to get four tries because they were going to get that and that game could run away. We did tremendously well to stay with our game and build the score.

“The penalty try Charles went for it because we had to and we knew it was our last chance. It was always going to be tough when we saw the Saracens selection.

“In the game we were all checking, it was an unusual situation. He could kick the ball out, we win the game, it’s all over, then Bath score and we lose by three. At that stage we had to play because we were behind.

“It has been an unusual season. People look at the outcome and the final placings but there is a lot of good in what we have done.

“I haven’t got a problem with what Saracens did. When you have done what they did you have earned the right to do it, so I have got no issue with Saracens and we would probably have done the same thing. We shouldn’t have been in that situation.”

Bristol’s try-scorers at Ashton Gate were Semi Radradra (2), Siva Naulago, Magnus Bradbury and Harry Thacker, with AJ MacGinty slotting 11 points off the tee.

Gloucester’s points came via Ollie Thorley and Jonny May tries while Adam Hastings and Billy Twelvetrees kicked a conversion apiece in a sixth straight defeat.

Cherry and Whites lose again

“In the first half it was the story of the last five or six weeks, lots of line breaks and not enough tries. We probably need to take three of those line breaks and then the second half is a good even game,” said head coach George Skivington.

“I thought Bristol were more clinical, particularly in those first two minutes, and that was the difference. We knew they would have a fast start, we talked about it all week, but ultimately we couldn’t contain it as they came to fling the ball around.

“There was some good stuff from us in attack, we have been building it all season, but it has been too little too late. You have got to finish your chances as well and that is something we will address in the off-season.

“Our set-piece has dropped off towards the end of the season and that is something we are going to have to look at. Maybe we have been spending too much time on attack in training.

“There are lots to address in the off-season. The objective at the start of the season was to focus on our attack, get the ball to the fast players and make line breaks, but it doesn’t matter if you don’t finish them off.”

READ MORE: Premiership: Bath will need ‘to get a lot better’ before the Champions Cup next season

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