Andy Robinson watches Bristol ahead of his appointment as director of rugby
BRISTOL'S director of rugby-in-waiting Andy Robinson watched from Box One of the West Stand as his new team returned to the all-important top four of the Championship with a bonus-point win over Rotherham.
The former England and Scotland head coach will be presented at a press conference at Bristol's training ground at noon today – and is understood to have signed a long-term deal with the club.
But, before beginning his official duties, the 48-year-old took on a watching brief as Bristol beat Rotherham 30-20 at the Memorial Stadium yesterday. Tries from George Watkins, Ryan Edwards, a penalty try, and Luke Eves – who went over in the corner in the 78th minute – secured the additional point for Bristol, who jumped back into the play-off places following weekend defeats for Leeds and Cornish Pirates.
Bristol head coach Liam Middleton would not discuss Robinson's impending appointment – "I'll answer any questions you've got on Monday," he said – but believes the team are closing in on their best rugby of the season.
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Middleton, who is expected to appear alongside Robinson, chairman Chris Booy and chief executive Steve Gorvett at today's press conference, said: "The win is outstanding, but the bonus point really topped it off nicely.
"This is an incredibly tough league. We always say it but, year on year, it gets tougher. You look at the league table and it's now starting to mirror the Premiership. It's a tough competition.
"We've had a couple of slips early in the season, which we were unhappy about, but I think we are going to come into some excellent form in the next four to six weeks.
"I massively believe that and the boys are really in charge to do that – and I'm looking forward to that.
"The important thing for us now is to make sure that it stays in our hands for the next few games. I maintain that we will peak at the right time.
"I think our best rugby is just around the corner. We've certainly planned that to be the case.
"The pitches will firm up, the conditions will dry up, and I think we'll come into some excellent form."
With seven matches to go, Bristol are one point clear of both fifth-placed Cornish Pirates and Leeds, who are sixth.
And Middleton wants yesterday's victory, where Bristol took a 25-6 lead, were pegged back to 25-20, and then ended the game on top to turn out to be a microcosm of their season.
"It's not over yet – but we stayed in the fight to the end of the game, and now we've got to stay in the fight to the end of the season," said Middleton.
"There will be twists and turns. But we cannot, at any point, look at anyone else's results and think, 'Oh, I hope they lose'.
"It's all in our hands, the bonus point makes it more in our hands, and it's got to stay in our hands."
Bristol were able to move back into the top four after Leeds were beaten 23-17 by Doncaster in Saturday's Yorkshire derby and Cornish Pirates went down 20-17 – after leading 17-0 – at home to London Scottish yesterday.