Premiership dream is an uphill battle now, admits Middleton
LIAM Middleton has accepted his Bristol team are facing "an uphill battle" after suffering a third Championship defeat in five matches when they were beaten by Moseley at the Memorial Stadium.
Bristol, the top team in the Championship over the 22-game regular season in 2011-12, are seventh after five matches this term – and are already five points off the all-important top four.
They lost 22-21 at home to Moseley on Friday night, despite leading 21-5 with 14 minutes to play, and now travel to Rotherham – a venue where they were beaten 44-6 a year ago – this weekend.
Bristol are already 14 points behind leaders Newcastle and 12 adrift of second-placed Bedford – and head coach Middleton is not underestimating the size of the challenge ahead.
Business Cards From Only £10.95 Delivered www.myprint-247.co.ukView details
Our heavyweight cards have FREE UV silk coating, FREE next day delivery & VAT included. Choose from 1000's of pre-designed templates or upload your own artwork. Orders dispatched within 24hrs.
Terms: Visit our site for more products: Business Cards, Compliment Slips, Letterheads, Leaflets, Postcards, Posters & much more. All items are free next day delivery. www.myprint-247.co.uk
Contact: 01858 468192
Valid until: Sunday, June 30 2013
"Everyone is going to reflect on where we are – we've got an uphill battle and it will be a real test of our character," he said. "Not many teams win at Rotherham and we've got a challenge coming our way.
"We'll have to get back to work and fine-tune some parts of our game. The raw materials are there – the endeavour is there – it's just that the decision-making and the quality of how we perform didn't allow us to hang on to the lead we had.
"The guys tried unbelievably hard – but maybe we tried too hard and it affected the decisions we made. I'm still confident that we'll come out of it.
"We're just going to have to have a very good run of wins and try to get ourselves in the right position.
"We've got to try to pick off the teams above us, but you can't do that without winning matches. We've dropped three games now and we can't really afford to drop many more.
"The guys are committed to what they're doing, we're just a little disjointed in the way we're playing. But I don't want to say that's an overall thing this season, because we have got reference of playing good rugby, particularly against Cornish Pirates."
Bristol's 29-17 win over last season's beaten Championship finalists was only 15 days ago – but already has the air of a distant memory.
Middleton's team have since been trounced 50-31 by Leeds and beaten by Kevin Maggs' Moseley, who now have as many wins as Bristol this season.
In Bristol's defence, they are still contending with an oversized injury list, while they are yet to welcome international forward signings Gaston Cortes and Alafoti Faosiliva into their ranks.
But Middleton admitted: "We've had a disappointing start. Our pre-season showed some fantastic glimpses of what we could do, but we are a little disjointed in our performances at the moment.
"The Cornish Pirates game was probably the leading light of our games – we played some good rugby there – but we haven't been able to repeat that in the last two games.
"That's where the disappointment lies. I still think the raw materials are there – we've just got to come together, work hard at our game and make sure we can get back to some form."
Friday's result delighted Moseley's Bristolian coaching duo of Maggs and Dave Hilton, who enjoyed a glorious return to the Memorial Stadium.
"We believed all week that we could come here and do a job," said Maggs. "We always believed we could do it – and the way we came back at the end was absolutely fantastic: we showed great character and great team spirit. "We've got a good group of lads and they work hard for each other."