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Bristol Bears boss Pat Lam issues Danny Care warning

Bristol Bears boss Pat Lam issues Danny Care warning
© Reuters
The Premiership rivals are chasing a place in the Twickenham final.

Bristol boss Pat Lam believes Harlequins star Danny Care is currently playing the best rugby of his career.

Care and Quins head to Ashton Gate on Saturday, where regular season table-toppers Bristol stand between them and a place in next week's Gallagher Premiership final at Twickenham.

While Bristol might have finished 14 points above Quins in the league and beat them twice this term, Lam fully acknowledges their danger.

Quins scored more Premiership points than any other team this season, averaging almost 32 a game, while their 89 tries across the domestic campaign was bettered only by Exeter.

Scrum-half Care claimed 12 of those touchdowns, hitting such consistent form that he was tipped in many quarters to gain a British and Irish Lions squad place for this summer's South Africa tour.

The 34-year-old ultimately missed out, and it is approaching four years since he won the last of his 84 England caps, but Lam has no doubt about Care's quality – and his impact on Quins half-back partner Marcus Smith.

"Quins have been on fire," Lam said.

Harlequins v Bath – Gallagher Premiership – Twickenham Stoop
Danny Care celebrates scoring a try for Harlequins (Steven Paston/PA)

"There are no shackles at all, the way they play, and there is some serious experience with Danny Care.

"He's playing the best rugby of his career, I would say, and he has got a great smile on his face.

"I think part of the reason Marcus Smith has gone to another level is because of Danny, and then with (number eight) Alex Dombrandt as well, they have got a good spine in their team.

"Marcus has shown his whole skill-set and maturity. He is driving Quins, along with other decision-makers.

"I remember when he was 18 or 19 and playing for Quins, you could see the talent.

Harlequins v Wasps – Gallagher Premiership – Twickenham Stoop
Harlequins fly-half Marcus Smith (Adam Davy/PA)

"I love the game, I love entertainment, I love expression, so it's great to see him, Danny and a lot of the others at Quins certainly enjoying their rugby, which is good for the game of rugby.

"We understand the challenge. It is no surprise to us and we understand that we have got a serious threat this week."

Bristol lost in the play-offs last season, suffering a 47-24 defeat against Wasps, but they have headed the table and shown impressive consistency for most of this term.

Lam added: "Semi-final rugby, the biggest lesson we took out of last season is that we were disappointed as a team because we didn't play our best rugby and we want to make sure that we give ourselves every opportunity by playing our best rugby.

"It is about a one-off game and getting the preparation right. It's a semi-final – winner takes all.

"Everyone watching the way they (Quins) play and the way we play, there is a good chance it will be pretty open.

"We set our goal once we got ahead (in the league) that it was a race to the top of the mountain, and we won the race, but now at the top of the mountain there are four teams.

"These next two weeks are about which team gets to put the flag in the mountain, because that's what is remembered.

"After this weekend, only two teams will have the opportunity to put the flag in."

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Olympic medal table header
CountryGold medalSilver MedalBronze MedalT
ChinaChina21131246
United StatesUnited States17171347
JapanJapan175830
Olympics flagOlympic Athletes from Russia11151137
AustraliaAustralia1131428
Great BritainGreat Britain891128
Today's Olympic highlights header

Sunday's key events


GOLF
· The men's golf reaches its conclusion, with plenty of players still in medal contention. Home favourite Hideki Matsuyama is one shot off Xander Schauffele's lead, while Great Britain's Paul Casey is another shot further back and Tommy Fleetwood is also in the mix (11.30pm-8am)

CYCLING - BMX
· Great Britain have already made history in the BMX events in Tokyo, something Charlotte Worthington and Declan Brooks will be looking to add to in the women's (2.10am) and men's (3.10am) freestyle finals

SWIMMING
· The final day of swimming action begins with the men's 50m freestyle final. Ben Proud could add to a medal-laden Games in the pool for Team GB so far, although he is up against USA's Caeleb Dressel, who is going for his fourth gold in Tokyo (2.30am)
· From sprint to endurance, Great Britain's second medal hope of the day comes through Daniel Jervis in the men's 1500m freestyle final (2.44am)
· Team GB will again be among the heavy favourites for gold in the last swimming event of the Games - the men's 4x100m medley relay final - having won the mixed event in a world record time on Saturday (3.36am)

BOXING
· Already guaranteed at least a bronze, Pat McCormack takes part in the men's welterweight semi-final against Ireland's Aidan Walsh with a spot in the gold medal final at stake (4.03am)
· Ben Whittaker is also in the semi-finals of the men's light heavyweight and will be looking to continue Team GB's success in the ring (4.51am)

TENNIS
· There will be a surprise on the top of the men's tennis podium after Novak Djokovic missed out on a medal altogether. Alexander Zverev takes on Karen Khachanov in the second match on Centre Court at the Ariake Tennis Park (7am-2pm)

SAILING
· Alison Young will be going for gold in the women's laser radial medal race (7.33am)

ARTISTIC GYMNASTICS
· Team GB's Max Whitlock will look to defend his 2016 Olympic title in the men's pommel horse final (10.41am)

ATHLETICS
· The men's high jump final includes GB's Tom Gale, although his chances of a medal look bleak (11.10am)
· So often the blue-riband event of the Olympics, the men's 100m final takes place as the world's fastest bid to be crowned Usain Bolt's successor. Three Brits have made it into the semi-finals (11.15am-11.32am), and the final looks wide open after an underwhelming display by favourite Trayvon Bromell on Saturday (1.50pm)

HOCKEY
· Great Britain face India in the men's quarter-final (1pm)

> Today's schedule in full
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