- Pirates sink Bristol 45-24 after second half fightback
- Bristol yet to lose at home in the RFU Championship this season
Photo: Brian Tempest
Following Cornish Pirates' 45-24 defeat of promotion favourites Bristol Rugby, Dave Ward commended the home side on a performance which saw them comeback from 14-0 down to win the first leg of the RFU Championship semi-final.
"We're not a conservative team. We go for it and in the first twenty minutes, that was to our detriment – we went for the offload and a few didn't go to hand. As soon as that happens, it's almost one step forwards, two steps back. But in the second half, everything seems to go to hand and when it did, you get that momentum and the ball starts bouncing for you and we started scoring tries that we've been scoring throughout the league season."
Ward, who will join Premiership side Harlequins next season, said despite the Pirates 21-point advantage, they will be on guard heading to The Memorial Stadium for the second leg on Sunday:
"We're confident because of the way we played today. We definitely got let of the hook a couple of times, there's no doubt about it, but 21-points is a big deficit. Bristol are going to have to come and play and sometimes, when you have to have to play, you make even more errors. So the pressure is certainly on them but we have to go out there and match the physicality that we showed today, which probably won us the game in the end.
"We're under no illusions. Bristol haven't lost at the Memorial in the league all season so yes, while it's brilliant and a great result in front of the home crowd, it's only half time."
Photo: RFU Archive
There is still 80 minutes of rugby to play - Middleton
Speaking after the game, Bristol head coach Liam Middleton spoke to the Bristol Post and said his team had "Everest to climb" if they hope to reach the RFU Championship finals:
"It's always possible," said the head coach. "It's an Everest to climb, but we've found ourselves in difficult times before during this season and we've come out with the right character.
"There is still 80 minutes of rugby to play and 20-odd points in 80 minutes is achievable – but it will be unbelievably challenging.
"I'm not angry; I don't feel that way – I feel quite philosophical about it. We have to be humble and realise we were beaten today – and there's no point in taking that out on anyone; we were beaten fairly and squarely.
"We know where we need to be better than that and we'll just have to dig in and show some real character on Sunday. Whatever the result of that game is, we need to show pride in our shirts and show character.
"If that progresses us to the final, it will be a phenomenal achievement; if it doesn't, we've had a positive season with a league win and a play-offs win, even if it's maybe not the final step. But we're evolving as a team and I've said that all season."