Hill shakes things up at Bristol for Toulon

Richard Hill shakes things up, particularly in the pack, as his Bristol Rugby side prepare for the visit of French big spenders Toulon on Friday evening in round 2 of the European Challenge Cup.

Hill starts six new faces in the pack that faced Montpellier last weekend with only Iain Grieve retaining his place in the starting line up and Alex Clarke moving up from the bench.

Mark Regan and Jason Hobson come into the front row, Roy Winters and Nathan Budgett form a new second row partnership and Alfie To’oala and Joe El Abd return to accompany Grieve (pictured) in the back row.

There are fewer changes in the back line with Ed Barnes and Neil Brew starting in midfield and Graeme Beveridge replacing Haydn Thomas at scrum half.

Of note amongst the replacements is the inclusion of prop Darren Crompton who features in the first team squad for the first time since injuring his ankle in preseason.

Hill is aware that Toulon will be keen to bounce back after an embarrassing home defeat at the hands of Northampton last week.

“Toulon were promoted last year and have an extremely wealthy owner. I think they’re one of the top three spending French teams along with Stade Francais and Toulouse.”

“They’ve invested in a lot of stars but, for some unknown reason last week against Northampton, they decided to put out ‘les espoirs’, the hopefuls, and Northampton whipped them by 50 points.”

“The President has obviously been a bit upset about that this week and it looks as though they’re bringing their full side which is great for Bristol!”

“They do have some great individuals but haven’t quite gelled as a team in the Top 14 just yet but have to be respected.”

On welcoming Darren Crompton back to the matchday squad and the hard work being put in by the squad:

“We’ve missed DC. He’s a real character in the squad. It’s good to get him back as he’s never normally injured and he has been the cornerstone of our pack in recent years.”

“The two games under lights this season have produced a fantastic atmosphere. We’re desperate to get our first win of the season, the players have really stepped up their work doing lots of theory, lots of practical as we look at every aspect of our game and see what we can do to improve it.”

Bristol Rugby:

Vunga Lilo; Lee Robinson, Neil Brew, Ed Barnes, Tom Arscott; Adrian Jarvis, Graeme Beveridge; Alex Clarke, Mark Regan, Jason Hobson; Roy Winters, Nathan Budgett; Alfie To’oala, Joe El Abd, Iain Grieve

Replacements:David Blaney, Darren Crompton, Robert Sidoli, Dan Ward-Smith, Haydn Thomas, Chris Ashwin, Luke Eves.



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