Preview: Bristol v Leeds

Hooker David Blaney will make his first Guinness Premiership start for Bristol as Richard Hill makes just one change to his starting line-up to face Leeds on Sunday.

In his second season with the club, Blaney has made seven appearances off the bench in the tournament. But the continued good form and durability of Mark Regan plus a close season shoulder operation have kept him on the sidelines.

Other changes to the matchday squad are on the replacements bench where Andrew Blowers is selected for the first time since the season opener against Leicester Tigers.

Lee Robinson also returns after injuring his ankle at Sale on the second weekend.

Hill acknowledged that Leeds are going to be a tough proposition but he’s delighted to welcome back a couple of key players and that a win on Sunday is very important to his team.

“Leeds were very good against Worcester and I know from experience that you get a huge boost of confidence from that,” said Hill.

“They now know that they can win in the Guinness Premiership which is bad news for us!”

Meanwhile, USA international Mike MacDonald will make his first start of the season for Leeds.

MacDonald was one of the stars of the USA’s World Cup campaign but has been out for two weeks with a rib injury suffered in his final game in France against World Cup finalists South Africa.

Samoan prop Fosi Pala’amo reverts to tighthead in place of the injured Colin Noon whilst Stuart Lancaster has rotated hookers Vili Ma’asi and Rob Rawlinson, with the latter starting this week.

There is only one change in the backline with last season’s leading try scorer Richard Welding replacing Leigh Hinton on the wing.

The bench sees Andy Tuilagi make his return to the squad after suffering a wrist injury whilst with the Samoan squad which ruled him out of the World Cup.

Form: Bristol Rugby have won five of their last six home matches, and have lost just twice at Memorial Stadium since April 2006. Leeds Carnegie climbed off the foot on the Guinness Premiership table courtesy of their 26-21 win over Worcester at Headingley Carnegie last Friday. Leeds are now out to gain back to back wins in the competition for the first time since 2005, in fact since the last time they won away from home: 16-12 at Bath on 25 November 2005. Leeds have won four of the last five encounters between the two clubs, but have won at Memorial Stadium just once in four previous visits in all competitions: 17-12 in the Premiership in February 2003.

Bristol: 15 Josh Taumalolo, 14 Tom Arscott, 13 Rob Higgitt, 12 David Hill, 11 David Lemi, 10 Jason Strange, 9 Brian O’Riordan, 8 Dan Ward-Smith, 7 Alfie To’oala, 6 Matt Salter (c), 5 Sean Hohneck, 4 Roy Winters, 3 Jason Hobson, 2 David Blaney, 1 Darren Crompton,
Replacements: 16 Scott Linklater, 17 Dave Hilton, 18 Nathan Budgett, 19 Andrew Blowers, 20 Haydn Thomas, 21 Neil Brew, 22 Lee Robinson

Leeds: 15 Jon Goodridge, 14 Richard Welding, 13 Jonny Hepworth, 12 Lee Blackett, 11 Tom Biggs, 10 Diego Albanese, 9 Joe Bedford, 8 Mark Lock, 7 Calum Clark, 6 Rhys Oakley, 5 Erik Lund, 4 Stuart Hooper (c), 3 Fosi Pala’amo, 2 Rob Rawlinson, 1 Mike MacDonald
Replacements: 16 Tommy McGee, 17 Vili Ma’asi, 18 Michael Cusack, 19 Kearnan Myall, 20 James Brooks, 21 Andy Tuilagi, 22 Leigh Hinton

Date: Sunday, 21 October
Venue: Memorial Stadium
Kick-off: 15:00 (14:00 GMT)
Referee: Martin Fox
Touch judges: Andrew Pearce, Peter Huckle
Television match official: Bob Ockenden

 

365 Digital

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