We must be more ruthless, says Bristol Rugby prop Mark Lilley
BRISTOL are back to winning ways – but prop Mark Lilley feels they may have to be more ruthless if they are to make it two from two against Ulster this weekend.
Bristol ended a sequence of three straight defeats with a 23-14 British & Irish Cup win at Cardiff four days ago.
But Lilley, pictured, felt several clear-cut chances went begging – and believes Bristol will have to be considerably more clinical in and around the try-line when they play host to Ulster Ravens on Sunday.
The early stages of the B&I Cup can be difficult to predict, but Ulster put 49 points on Bridgend last weekend and are expected to provide a sterner challenge than Cardiff mustered.
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"I think we can expect Ulster to be strong up front with a good set-piece, but also to move the ball around with speed," said Lilley. "So it's important that our defence is fully up to the job, and also that we stick to our game-plan but are more clinical in attack.
"We left a lot of opportunities and points out there against Cardiff – and we will need to put those away against Ulster.
"We had chances through all the parts of our game, including line-out drives and driving scrums that we should have put away. Those little areas have been killing us a bit, even if you go back to the Moseley and Rotherham games. We are creating opportunities, which is one positive, but we are not finishing enough of them – so it's important we all buy into it, realise those mistakes and be more clinical."
As with the striker in football who gets into the right positions but can't quite find the target, Lilley believes Bristol's profligacy at least suggests they are doing plenty right in terms of their attack.
"If we weren't creating any chances and losing games, it would be a case of 'what do we do now?'" said Lilley.
"But we've won a game at the weekend, we've created a lot of chances recently, and we know we need to improve just that few extra per cent to really put these teams away.
"Yes, we lost three games in a row, but if you look at the first half at Rotherham and the Moseley game, we should have put those boys away – and, if we had, our season would look completely different. But we will stick to what we do and we will back ourselves."
Lilley, who had spells in all three front-row positions during his rugby education at Bath, has now settled on loosehead prop, a position in which he is eager to prove himself at Bristol.
Last weekend's game was his first start of the season for Bristol – but he is hoping to double his tally this weekend.
"The team hasn't been named yet, but fingers crossed I will be involved again on Sunday," he said. "I was happy with how the weekend went, and it was just good to be out there playing again.
"It was a tough game in tough conditions, but I thoroughly enjoyed it and it was great to be putting on the shirt again.
"There is always lots of rugby to be played, and if you are not playing for two or three weeks, you have to understand that things can turn around quite quickly. All you have to do is keep working hard, and, when your chance comes along, make sure you take it."