Pat Lam vents frustration over Siale Piutau suspension

Date published: September 8 2020

Bristol Bears director of rugby Pat Lam has voiced his immense sense of frustration at a three-match ban handed out to centre Siale Piutau.

Piutau missed Bristol’s 47-10 Premiership victory over Northampton, their biggest home win in the competition’s history.

He will also sit out a trip to Premiership play-off rivals Wasps on Sunday and next week’s European Challenge Cup quarter-final against the Dragons.

Piutau was cited for punching during last week’s win at Worcester following a 79th-minute incident that saw Worcester lock Andrew Kitchener sent off and also banned for three games for punching.

But Lam was still angry as the dust began to settle on a seven-try demolition of Saints that saw Bristol reclaim second place above Sale Sharks.

“I am just extremely frustrated,” Lam told BT Sport. “The messages of inconsistency is what I am struggling with.

“Siale was attacked by two guys who started swinging at him. The process means he can’t strike back.

“The message you can start a fight and punch someone with the same penalty (three games)… I just think there needs to be clarity and a shake-up.

“You should be able to defend yourself if someone attacks you like that. I was absolutely disappointed. Things have got to change.”

Bristol made short work of an inexperienced Saints side, moving clear through tries in the opening 20 minutes by hooker Harry Thacker, wing Alapati Leiua and scrum-half Andy Uren.

Captain Callum Sheedy converted all three touchdowns, although Bristol did not score again and claim a bonus point until midway through the second half when flanker Chris Vui scored.

But that try opened the floodgates as Sheedy converted and also added the extras to scores from centre Piers O’Conor and flanker Ben Earl, before wing Luke Morahan crossed as Bristol moved three points above Sale, with Sharks hosting Saracens on Wednesday.

“When we got to 21-3 ahead, we needed to control our game a lot better,” Lam added.

“We started pretty well, and then we lost control. If you want to win titles, your discipline has got to be better.

“In the final quarter, we were superb. There was some great off-loading and, win or lose, we always say we will take the points and take the learnings.”

Substitute Josh Gillespie scored a try for Northampton, with James Grayson adding a conversion and penalty, but it was their fifth defeat from six Premiership games since the competition restarted last month.

The game moved to uncontested scrums after 55 minutes when Saints lost a second loosehead prop to injury, meaning they also went down to 14 men.

Northampton director of rugby Chris Boyd said: “We knew it was going to be a tough ask.

“We managed to peg it back to 21-10, and then when we lost our two looseheads and went down to 14 it was bit of a perfect storm. When they are hot, they are hot.

“We dropped off some tackles and made some poor reads, and when we go back on the tape it will tell us if some guys are ready to play this level or not.”