BATH fly-half Rhys Priestland says it has to be a goal for the club to make the top four of the Premiership this season, ahead of their opener away at Bristol Bears on Friday night, writes JONATHAN LEIGHFIELD.

The Welsh international has never been part of a top-four Bath squad – joining the Blue, Black and Whites weeks after they finished as Premiership runners up to Saracens in 2014-15.

Consecutive sixth-place finishes in the two most recent season must be improved upon, according to the 32-year-old, and Priestland believes that target is certainly possible to achieve give the strength of the current squad.

However, with the other 11 top-flight sides also boasting ever-improving playing outfits, Priestland knows it will be tougher than ever to make the play-offs.

He said: “I’m sure if you asked nearly every team in the Premiership what their goals are for the season, I’m sure most of them would tell you their aim is to get into the top four.

“If you look at the quality of the squads around now, it’s not impossible for anyone to get in there.

“It has to be a goal for us – it’s been a goal every year I’ve been here, but we’ve fallen short on every occasion.

“We’ve been very close a couple of times, but it has to be a case of getting into that top four.

“If you get there, then anything can happen come the end of the season.”

Bath kick off their 2019-20 Premiership season with a sense of déjà vu – last season’s opening fixture was against the same opposition at the same stadium.

Priestland was part of the side that went down 17-10 at Ashton Gate last term before restoring pride in The Clash – held at Twickenham – with a 26-19 success.

The Welsh 50-capper hopes that while it may be the same fixture it is not the same result, and has called on his Bath team-mates to cut out the errors that led to the home crowd carrying their team to derby victory.

Priestland said: “We’re fully aware of the threat that Bristol pose, especially at Ashton Gate when they’ve got 26,000 people behind them.

“Last year, we didn’t play well, we fed them and that ended up feeding the crowd – it was a bit of a snowball effect then.

“Hopefully we can go there this year, put in place everything we’ve been working hard on over the last four months and keep that crowd a little bit quieter, and not give them the occasion they had last year.”