Bristol Bears finished their 85-14 victory against Newcastle Falcons with 14 men on the pitch after key back James Williams left the first four minutes from time in discomfort.

Williams has emerged as an unexpected vital cog in Bristol’s reemergence as play-off contenders as the glue that sticks the backline together. The inside centre is keeping out French superstar Virimi Vakatawa having built a symbiotic midfield partnership with Benhard Janse van Rensburg who was once again named player of the match having narrowly missed out on the March Premiership Player of the Month award.

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While the South African, who grabbed two of Bristol’s 13 tries on Sunday, is grabbing the headlines, it is the almost error-free Williams who is providing the stability and fluency for the flair players in the backline around him to shine, and shine they did at Ashton Gate with Siva Naulago, James Dun, Max Malins, Magnus Bradbury, Ellis Genge, Harry Randall, Kieran Marmion, Jake Heenan and Virimi Vakatawa joining Janse van Rensburg and Williams on the scoreline.

So there was significant concern in the Bears coaching box when he was forced off with an injury late in the game, with a stern test away at Leicester Tigers to come next Saturday.

Providing an update post-match, Lam provided reassurance. He said: “He's had a bit of a banter. When he went down, the medics came back and said he couldn’t play so I said let's play 14 men, it’s only four minutes left. Let’s test that scenario. That means keep the ball, fellas, keep the ball. And then when I saw him after, he said he was winded. I said ‘Seriously? Just winded.’ So I gave him a bit of banter but he is fine.”

Despite talking to the press just minutes after the final whistle of the win over Newcastle, Lam already had his sights set on the trip to Welford Road next weekend. He said: "What a challenge. I love going to Leicester. Always have as a player because it's a traditional stronghold. It is intimidating for people. It's full-on. and If you get a win there, it doesn't matter what time, it's always cherished because of how tough it is to win."