Home-grown influence shows that Bristol have a bright future
BRISTOL'S pursuit of a return to the Aviva Premiership will inevitably lead to an influx of imported talent. But Jack Tovey and George Watkins have proved that the best of Bristolian will also have a chance to shine in the club's brave new world.
The homegrown duo – Tovey is from Downend, Watkins, pictured, from Thornbury – this week signed new deals at the club after playing a central role in Bristol's rise to the Championship play-off places.
Firm terrace favourites, both for their on-field contributions and their status as local lads who understand the club, Tovey and Watkins – just like No 8 Mitch Eadie – offer proof that young Bristolians can still graduate to the first-team and make a difference.
Tovey and Watkins have certainly done that – and they recognise the significance of this evening's visit of Nottingham, who are not only in the third position in the table that Bristol covet, but beat them 63-7 earlier this season.
Dyson DC50i - Bagless upright vacuum cleaner - BALL Technology -...View details
Thisi is Dyson's smallest upright vacuum cleaner with the performance of a full size upright machine. The DC50i has Dyson's most advanced cleaner head technology and 2 Tier RadialTM cyclones.
Terms: LIMITED STOCK OFFER. FREE delivery to most UK postcodes - Next working day dispatch.
Contact: 01664 491439
Valid until: Monday, May 27 2013
"That was one of those games you want to forget, but we've got to think back to it and realise that it can't happen again," said full-back Tovey.
"We need to settle the score – and, to keep the ball rolling and to keep things in our hands for the rest of the season, we need to win on Friday.
"It's a massive game for a few reasons."
Since being thrashed at Nottingham in November, Bristol have won 11 of their last 12 games, so confidence is understandably high, even if the players are trying to remain grounded.
"Everyone's a got a lot more confidence in their roles and everybody's really buying into everything – not that they weren't before, but I think there's a lot more clarity now," said Tovey.
That clarity has led to an improvement in performances and results that has got Bristol setting their sights on Bedford and Nottingham above them. And, if they can finish second or third, they will avoid Newcastle in the play-off semi-finals.
Watkins said: "Before, it was maybe a case of 'can we push and nick fourth?' – but if we keep a good run going, there's no reason why we can't push for second or third.
"A win on Friday would be massive for us and I don't see why we can't aspire for bigger things than just fourth.
"The training and the way we've played recently has been the best it's been all season.
"There seems to be that focus, there's a good buzz around the camp, and we seem to have got the balance right between enjoying ourselves and knuckling down and training and playing well.
"It's another tough game on Friday, and, although there's a lot of exciting stuff going on at the club, you can't afford to look further than Friday night. We really need to win that game."
Bristol have come a long way from the "dark day" at Meadow Lane four months ago to beating Bedford in the sunshine six days ago – so much so that Watkins believes he and his team-mates are motivated more by closing the gap on Nottingham in the table than they are by seeking revenge this evening.
"It was good that we got a victory like the one at Bedford, because we hadn't proved ourselves away from home this season," said the winger. "We've been going pretty well but that was always going to be a big test for us and it was good that we came through well – we didn't just sneak through, we won the game well.
"Nottingham away was a pretty dark day for us but it's something we'll probably use on the day for motivation.
"But it's more important we get the win on Friday for our season and for the league table than to avenge what happened up there."