Bristol Rugby: We must make sure we do a good job against Doncaster, says Mark Lilley
ON-LOAN prop Mark Lilley believes Bristol must use tomorrow's Championship pool finale against Doncaster to iron out any glitches ahead of the semi-finals.
Bristol will meet Cornish Pirates or Bedford over two legs in the semis next month – but not before they have faced Doncaster at the Memorial Stadium.
Lilley, who is on loan from Bath, is one of several fringe members of Liam Middleton's squad who are likely to be given an opportunity to impress in tomorrow's game.
The head coach could change more than half of the team that started last weekend's 26-20 win at London Welsh – with Jason Hobson suspended, Ross Johnston injured and players such as Roy Winters, Jack Tovey, Ruki Tipuna and Mark Irish likely to be rested.
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And 24-year-old Lilley, a replacement at Old Deer Park five days ago, knows there are areas of their game Bristol must tighten up before their two-legged semi-final.
"Our defence is a massive part of our game and a few lapses there let Welsh back into the game," said Lilley, pictured.
"When it comes to the semi-finals and finals, there are no more chances, so we've looked at that, trained hard and corrected a few things. Now we need to demonstrate that on Saturday.
"You never have a perfect game, there's always something you can work on, and it's important we improve in every game now.
"Liam and the coaches are looking at all these little details, so if we come up against certain situations in the semis or final, we've practiced it and done it in training, so hopefully we will do well under pressure.
"We know what we want to correct and we've got to do that, especially with going into the semi-finals. We're working hard and taking nothing for granted."
Lilley, along with players such as Jason Harris-Wright, Ben Glynn, Rhys Lawrence and Tom Slater, could make a statement ahead of the semi-final selection with a strong performance tomorrow.
And, partly, it seems, because of that reason, Bristol's players are not yet looking beyond tomorrow's game.
"We're not looking at the semi-finals at all at the moment," said Lilley.
"We've got Doncaster next and that's a big game for us – we want to make sure we do a good job on them first, then we'll look at the semis.
"Since I've been here, that's how they've approached each week. There's no point looking too far ahead – we have to have a good performance against Doncaster, correct a few things that went wrong against Welsh and go from there."
Lilley, who can operate on both sides of the scrum, has appeared in eight Aviva Premiership matches for parent club Bath – but he has been impressed by the standard of rugby in the Championship.
"It's a really good league to play in – there's some good rugby played and, in terms of physicality, I reckon it's definitely up there," he said. "From what I can see, there's not much difference between the Championship and the Premiership.
"I've really enjoyed it over here – the boys work really hard, there's a great culture and it's great to be involved in the squad and to get some game-time."