“We have to find grace in defeat. The winning rhythm will swing back our way soon. It will click”
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Pat Lam will look to Kyle Sinckler to awaken Bristol from their four-month nightmare at Newcastle today.
The Bear necessity is a win after four heavy defeats in five outings for the Ashton Gate outfit since topping the final Premiership table last season.
Most recently Harlequins gave them a 21-point head start and still stuck 50 on them – scoring seven unanswered tries after half-time as Bristol folded.
Nobody felt the pain more acutely than Sinckler, who made his name at Quins during the first eight years of his career.
“I’ve got to be honest it hurt,” said the England star, always one to wear his heart on his sleeve.
“However, we have to find grace in defeat. The winning rhythm will swing back our way soon. It will click.”
Sinckler, 28, has made a sizeable impression on Lam who knows he can count on the prop when it comes to manning the barricades.
“This is where the leaders step up,” said Lam, who signed a five-year contract extension on the first day of the season.
“You get a better idea of people in adversity and Kyle is one of those that is really stepping up and making a huge difference.
“He’s been phenomenal in that sense. I’m really pleased with what he’s doing and what he’s saying.”
Lam knows, however, that words count for little if they don’t lead to performances and results. One win over Bath does not a season make.
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He readily admits that “at the moment we look rubbish”. And a notable injury list, meaning nine changes this afternoon, only stiffens the challenge.
Semi Radradra, Siva Naulago and Luke Morahan are huge losses; Chris Vui, Steven Luatua, Piers O’Conor and Henry Purdy further absentees Bristol can ill-afford.
But Lam has convinced himself that adversity now will benefit the team later, even if one more league loss will match last season’s total.
He bats away claims that fitness levels are sub-standard, despite Bears having failed to trouble the scorers in the second half of three of their four games this term.
Danny Care, who has helped Quins put 95 points on Bristol in two games – 83 of those, including 13 tries, coming after half-time – is not so sure.
“Bristol are really susceptible to tries when they turn over the ball,” he said. “Because they keep the ball for so long they are tired when you turn them over.”
Lam countered: “I have no concerns with our physical fitness.”
He won’t panic, knowing that Wasps, in 2020, and Quins, last season, reached Twickenham despite firing blanks before New Year.
But what he does need to see is an 80-minute performance.
Anything less and Adam Radwan, Newcastle’s Premiership player of the month, will likely add to their discomfort.