Middleton confident Bristol Rugby will put things right against Moseley
LIAM Middleton is expecting an "emotional response" from his Bristol side tonight when they take on Moseley at the Memorial Stadium.
Bristol crashed to a 50-31 defeat against Leeds at Headingley on Sunday, and their Zimbabwean head coach believes his side have the perfect opportunity to bounce back and put the record straight tonight.
"Looking over the tapes of the Leeds game didn't really reflect anything different to what we thought at the time – we know where we went wrong," he said.
"We didn't go wrong technically or tactically, we went wrong mentally, and I don't think we were quite at the races. The competition, as it stands now, doesn't allow any room for leniency or a lack of respect for the opposition. It's not that we showed a lack of respect to Leeds, but maybe we weren't at 100 per cent, and this competition shows you need to be.
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"Obviously, guys are not happy – we set high standards for ourselves, and we didn't meet those standards. We lost four important league points, and I think there's a general disappointment among the group about the way we conducted ourselves during the game.
"But what's done is done – we've genuinely picked up some lessons about how we approach the game from a physiological perspective, but we've got to put it behind us now and move forward.
"It's not about brushing it under the carpet – it's about saying 'we didn't go right in these areas, and this is what we need to do to make sure it doesn't happen again'."
Bristol lie eighth in the Championship table after four rounds of matches, having won two of their matches – away at Doncaster and at home to Cornish Pirates – and lost against Newcastle and Leeds.
But Middleton is unconcerned about his team's league position, believing it is far too early to read anything into the make-up of the Championship table.
He added: "You can't read too much into the league table after just four games – there's a lot of rugby to be played between now and the end of the season.
"Newcastle and Bedford are likely to be at the top, and we have to chase one of the remaining places, but it's too early to call where our final league position will be.
"There are a lot of changes to our side, with new guys coming in and having to learn new systems, but I'm pretty comfortable where we are right now. Objectively, we've shown a marked improvement in our set-piece results.
"There is probably a perception that we're not as good as we were this time last season, but I don't work in perception – I work in the objective reality of what we see and what we want from the game.
"Moseley will be a brave side. They will be a side that will feel they can come to the Memorial Stadium and win, because they had good results against us last year. They've got some good players – their centre Charlie Hayter is a quality player.
"But this weekend is not about Moseley, it's about Bristol Rugby getting back to its best, and we're going to work hard to achieve that. There has to be an emotional response to our poor performance at Leeds, and the players will do that.
"I'm not looking for anything phenomenal, I'm just looking for the guys to go out and show character, show response, and get the victory."
Bristol: D McIlwaine; R Edwards, L Eves, B Mosses, M Williams; T Roberts, R Tipuna; W Davis, R Lawrence, B Douglas, M Sambucetti, G Townson, I Grieve (capt), R Pennycook, M Eadie. Reps: T Channon, W Thompson, M Lilley, B Glynn, M Mama, J Grindal, M Jones.
Moseley: O Thomas; S Hunt, G King, C Hayter, B Hunt; G Hughes, S Brown; E Waller, A Caves, C Voisey, A Lockley, B Lawrence, N Mason, O Robinson, B Pienaar. Reps: S Wilkes, C Meddick, L Mather, N Burrows, A Day, A Carter, B Robinson.