Sean Holley: London Welsh clash will not affect Bristol hopes

Bristol head coach Sean Holley insists Friday's clash with nearest rivals London Welsh will having no bearing on their potential Championship play-off final meeting.

The league leaders host the second-placed Exiles with two games remaining before the semi-finals.

Both sides are heavy favourites to contest the final, with Leeds Carnegie and Rotherham making up the top four.

The top four teams are there by right - they are the best four teams and can all beat one another and have all proven that this year

Sean Holley Bristol Rugby head coach on the Championship play-offs

"It means very little in the context of that final," said Holley.

"The final and semi-final are a different matter. Everything goes out the window - it will be a mini tournament in itself."

Bristol, relegated from the top flight in 2009, have failed to win promotion back through the play-offs, despite twice finishing top of the Championship table in the past four seasons.

London Welsh are the only side that Bristol have failed to beat in England second-tier competition this term, having been beaten 22-7 at the Kassam Stadium in November.

"They did a big job on us that day, they were excellent, very methodical in their approach, defended well and shut us down, while we played particularly poorly," Holley told BBC Points West.

"We've looked back at it a lot this week and reflected on how we were in a different place back then - we are a different side physically and mentally.

"This [match] comes as a great time in the season for both teams, just prior to play offs. There will be some jostling for position and having a good look at one another."

Victory for either side will go a long way towards securing top spot in the league, while Rotherham and Leeds also meet in a crucial match at Sheffield's Abbeydale Park with third place yet to be decided.

Holley is not discounting Leeds and Rotherham in the battle for promotion either.

"The top four teams are there by right - they are the best four teams and can all beat one another and have all proven that this year," he said.

"They are dangerous teams that can score points with good good squads."