We were delighted to put ourselves in a strong position going into the semi-final second leg, but the squad is under no illusions about the size of the task that awaits us on Sunday at Ashton Gate.
We’ve given ourselves a great buffer and that’s the result of a lot of hard work and dedication from the guys who took the field at Goldington Road last weekend. But it’s only half-time in the tie and there has been no talk this week about anything other than going out, delivering a performance and winning the game in front of our home support.
For us, it’s all about the process and executing our roles. The guys know we have to finish the job against a talented Bedford Blues outfit. They have nothing to lose and will be attacking us from all over the park. The surface at Ashton Gate will suit Bedford’s style of play so we need to be wary of how dangerous they can be. Make no mistake, they’re a threat and we have to front up once again to get the right result.
To have gone the entire season unbeaten away from home is a testament to the team spirit and attitude that we have in the squad. We showed huge solidarity in our defensive line to keep Bedford to one try on their own patch. The pack were outstanding and laid a platform and I thought the backline stuck to the plan and did their jobs very effectively.
What was really pleasing was the way that guys stepped up and delivered outstanding performances. It shows the strength in depth we have in the squad that the likes of James Phillips, Nick Koster and Callum Sheedy – to name a few – can come in and really drive our performance. We need to replicate that on Sunday, keep our heads down and continue to work hard on all aspects of our game.
There’s going to be a fantastic atmosphere at Ashton Gate. It’s great that the supporters are really getting behind the team in this play-off campaign, as they have done throughout the season. They’ve been with us every step of the way so the boys are desperate to give them another strong performance. The supporters have been amazing all season and they can be the difference again. To run out at Goldington Road and see our away fans outnumber the home support just shows what an incredible club this is. As players, we know we owe the supporters another good display because they have backed us throughout the year.
It’s going to be a big crowd, passionate and noisy – that’s exactly the sort of environment that players want to play in. We won’t get too far ahead of ourselves. It’s about focusing on each game as it comes and the next challenge is Bedford Blues at home. We need to do the basics right and remain composed because we are going to come under pressure during periods of the game.