Liam Middleton: Bristol Rugby will take same approach to Cornish Pirates play-off semi
LIAM Middleton has a simple message for his Bristol players ahead of their Championship semi-final against Cornish Pirates: Keep doing what you have done all season.
Bristol head to Penzance on Monday (12.05pm) for the first leg of a semi-final double-header that will conclude at the Memorial Stadium six days later.
And head coach Middleton, whose team have won 21 of their 28 Championship and play-off games this season, is planning no major changes to his team's tactics, approach or personnel for the biggest game of their campaign to date.
"It's important we stick to the process we've had all season, which was to take one game at a time," said Middleton.
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: Wednesday, May 22 2013
"Generally in sport, if you get a semi-final, you expect that you're one game away from a final – but actually there's a long way to go before we can even think about that.
"I think we'll stick to our process of 'one game at a time', which has worked for us. That's an important mind-set to have.
"Very little has changed for us leading into this first semi-final. We haven't changed the way we're going to play, our preparation has been exactly the same and it's what we trust in and what we know works well for us."
And, although the tie is being played over two games, Middleton has resisted the temptation to adopt a negative mind-set regarding acceptable deficits heading into the second leg.
Instead, he has only one result in mind – a victory.
"We've spoken about that this week and our goal is outright to win – if it's by one point, it's by one point, but we are going down there to win," he said.
Bristol have named a team showing seven changes to that which beat Doncaster 39-10 a fortnight ago – although the teams they announce and those that take the field have not always borne close resemblance this season.
For example, it is difficult to imagine Bristol facing Pirates at the Mennaye without Jason Hobson, unless the tighthead prop has collected an injury in training during the latter part of the week. However, Middleton acknowledged selection for Monday's game had proved difficult, particularly in light of his side's thrashing of Doncaster, where several fringe members of his squad produced strong performances.
"Selection has been as difficult as it has been throughout the play-offs – possibly a bit more so, in fact, because there were some very big performances in the Doncaster game," he said.
"I thought four or five guys really put their hands up in that game and that made things a little more difficult."
Cornish Pirates: R Cook; G Pointer, S Hill, A Suniula, D Doherty; C Thomas, G Cattle (capt); C Rimmer, D Ward, A Paver, L McGlone, I Nimmo, C Morgan, P Burgess, B Maidment. Reps: R Storer, R Elloway, R Brits, D Ewers, K Marriott, T Kessell, M Evans.
Bristol (from): J Goodridge, S Marsden, J Tovey, F Otto, L Eves, W Helu, G Watkins, M Jones, M James, R Tipuna, T Slater; M Irish, M Lilley, R Johnston, J Harris-Wright, J Hobson, W Thompson, G Townson, R Winters, B Glynn, I Grieve (capt), J Merriman, M Mama, R Pennycook, D Montagu, H Vanderglas.