Bristol make two changes to the pack for Bath

Bristol Rugby Head Coach Richard Hill makes just two changes to the pack that came so close to victory at London Wasps last weekend as he names his side for the Ashton Gate showdown against Bath on Sunday and keeps faith with Ed Barnes at fly half.

Bristol have put in some excellent performances in the Guinness Premiership in recent weeks with a victory over Gloucester and scored four tries before losing to the final play of the game at London Wasps last weekend.

So, Hill sticks with the squad that has played so well and makes only two rotational changes to the side that started last weekend as Gareth Llewellyn and Andrew Blowers are both promoted from the bench and into the starting lineup.

So, it’s an unchanged back line with Ed Barnes, who enjoyed an impressive full debut last weekend, continuing at fly half.

Llewellyn comes in for Roy Winters who suffered a dead leg at Wasps with Roy moving to the bench and Blowers swaps places with Alfie To’oala.

There are also changes on the bench as Mark Regan returns from England duty and Dave Hilton replaces the injured Jason Hobson. Haydn Thomas is in for Graeme Beveridge and Jason Strange is back after being rested last weekend.

Hill acknowledged that Bath can be a tough proposition on their day

“They have some great players and they have the ability to cut a side to ribbons. They’ve a good pack of forwards who give them a great set piece and they also carry the ball well and like to offload. The coach gives them a license to play that way and they can be devastating.”

“In the past, we’ve set out to restrict their possession in the first twenty or thirty minutes and try and contain them. When we’ve been able to do that, we’ve usually emerged with the win. When we haven’t and they’ve scored early tries, it’s been a difficult afternoon.”

“But our mentality will have to change as it has done in the past few weeks. We can’t just sit back. We’ll go out and play a lot more rugby than usual against Bath which should make for an entertaining game.”

Hill has resisted the temptation to bring England hooker Mark Regan straight back into the fold:

“We’re going to start with Scott Linklater on this occasion – he has had two very good games for us in the last two weeks.”

“He was probably the supporters’ man of the match against Gloucester when we won a couple of weeks ago – and last week against Wasps I think him and Joe El Abd were probably the pick of the forwards.

“On the back of that, Mark has had a lot of rugby with England and we are picking someone who is fresh. Scott Linklater is on top of his game and we are going to keep him going. Mark will be on the bench and I am sure he will play some part.”

Bristol Rugby:
Luke Arscott; Anthony Elliott, Rob Higgitt, David Hill, David Lemi; Ed Barnes, Brian O’Riordan; Alex Clarke, Scott Linklater, Darren Crompton; Gareth Llewellyn, Sean Hohneck; Matt Salter (capt), Joe El Abd, Andrew Blowers

Mark Regan, Dave Hilton, Roy Winters, Alfie To’oala, Haydn Thomas, Jason Strange, Sam Cox.   


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