Perry to make first start for Bristol against Exiles

Bristol Rugby Head Coach Richard Hill has made only injury enforced changes to the squad that faced Gloucester last weekend as Bristol prepare to take on London Irish at the Memorial Stadium on Sunday.

The only new face in the squad is that of Redford Pennycook who replaces Iain Grieve who is awaiting the results of a scan on the shoulder he injured at Kingsholm.

However, Hill has made several positional changes to his backline as Lee Robinson comes in on the right wing. Neil Brew retains his place at centre but Luke Eves starts at 12 whilst Ed Barnes replaces Adrian Jarvis in the fly half role.

And, after two replacement appearances against Northampton Saints and Gloucester, scrum half Shaun Perry makes his first start of the season.

When he revealed his side to the media this week, Hill admitted that the Gloucester defeat was disappointing but that the squad had put it behind them.

“We had one of those evenings at Kingsholm. They happen from time to time, you lose the odd game heavily and we’ve learned not to beat ourselves up about it.”

“We’ve taken on board some things from that game and drawn a line under it. The attitude amongst the players this week has been superb. It can take a few days to get over a heavy defeat but they’ve been flying in training this week.”

“We’ve kept by and large the same pack and will just make one or two changes in the backs. Shaun Perry starts and Ed Barnes will be at 10 so we have new half backs.”

“It’s never easy for the nine and ten when things aren’t going well and Graeme Beveridge and Adrian Jarvis have done a good job but Shaun and Ed will give us some more attacking options and create space for the outside backs.”

Hill also acknowledged that Irish will pose a real attacking threat but that home advantage could be vital:

“Our defence will have to be spot on. You have to be alive to all of their threats. We’ve worked hard on that this week to tighten things up.”

“We have to get stuck into them and get them involved in a battle. If you stand off them, with the huge attacking threat they have, they’ll do you some damage.”

“We’re hoping for a good turnout from our supporters because you could see what a difference they made in a tight game like Northampton. They’ve been magnificent all season and been right behind us. The atmosphere has been terrific and I hope they can see the way the players are lifted by their support. We’re pumped up and want to win for them.”

Bristol Rugby:

Luke Arscott; Lee Robinson, Neil Brew, Luke Eves, David Lemi; Ed Barnes, Shaun Perry; Alex Clarke, Mark Regan, Darren Crompton; Roy Winters, Robert Sidoli; Alfie To’oala, Joe El Abd (capt), Dan Ward-Smith


Scott Linklater, Peter Bracken, Mariano Sambucetti, Redford Pennycook, Graeme Beveridge, Adrian Jarvis, Tom Arscott.

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