Bristol Rugby boss Andy Robinson has challenged his Aviva Premiership Rugby newboys to bounce back from last week’s agonising loss to Harlequins in the London Double Header.
Robinson was enthused with Bristol’s grit and tenacity during the 21-19 loss to Harlequins but is now desperate to rack up his side’s first Aviva Premiership win of the season when Northampton Saints come calling this weekend.
Bristol obtained their first point in the Aviva Premiership since March 2009 courtesy of their 19-21 defeat to Harlequins at Twickenham – but Robinson doesn’t want to be known as plucky losers this season.
Bristol have played five previous Premiership Rugby matches at Ashton Gate, winning three and losing two, one of which, in April 2007, was classified as a Gloucester home game.
And Robinson is determined to turn Ashton Gate into a fortress this season as Bristol Rugby look to become an established Aviva Premiership force.
“Everything we’ve talked to the players about is that we’ve got to be a squad that’s here to win – not to be unlucky losers,” said Robinson.
“We cannot accept that we can get into a lead like we did, and have the amount of penalties that we gave away, as part of what we do.
“You’re never going to win a game of rugby giving away that many penalties. We were lucky not to get somebody sin-binned – and we must make sure we manage the referee a lot better.
Northampton Saints will be determined to bounce back from their opening day loss after they tripped up at home to Bath Rugby last Saturday.
They have not lost both of their opening two encounters in Aviva Premiership Rugby since the inaugural season of 1997/8.
The Saints won their most recent away game 28-20 at Gloucester in round 22 last season but have not won two in a row on the road since December 2014.
The Saints beat Bristol the last time the two teams met: 30-8 at Franklin’s Gardens in January 2009 but have not triumphed on Bristol soil in Premiership Rugby since a 19-16 victory in April 2006.
And full-back Ben Foden has warned Bristol of a Northampton backlash as the Saints head to Bristol this weekend.
“The big pressure on us is we need to win the away games that we’re expected to win if you want to be a top-four side,” he said.
“The teams the people put in the bottom half of the league, you need to be topping there and taking points away from teams like that.
“We’ve got some tough fixtures coming up as well, Saracens after this then Wasps, who are both looking like top four sides so we really need to be looking at this game for maximum points and having the mind set of we’re going to go there and put these to the sword.
“We know Bristol are going to be a good side, they gave Quins a good run for their money at the weekend, they’ve made some good signings and we know.
“We’ve got to go down there into a hostile environment 25,000 seats and I wouldn’t be surprised if they sold out, first game back in the Aviva Premiership.”
Ashton Gate, 3pm
Referee: Craig Maxwell-Keys (19th Premiership game).
Assistant Referees: Dean Richards & Peter Allan.
TMO: Graham Hughes.