Four changes as Bristol go Shark hunting

Bristol Rugby Head Coach Richard Hill has made five changes, two in the backs and three in the pack, for the visit of Sale Sharks on Friday evening.


Some changes were expected after the disappointing setback at the Stoop last Saturday but Hill opts to keep the core of the side together.

Ed Barnes comes in for Kevin Maggs at inside centre in his first start for the club at that position and Graeme Beveridge replaces Haydn Thomas.

In the pack, Alex Clarke replaces Mark Irish at loosehead prop whilst Alfie To’oala comes in on the blindside and Dan Ward-Smith takes the place of Andrew Blowers.

On the bench, the new faces from last weekend include Roy Winters, Redford Pennycook and Tongan international Vunga Lilo.

Hill acknowledged that it’s been a week of home truths and hard work at Bristol:

“We weren’t very happy with last weekend at Harlequins, it was a poor performance and we’ve had to get harsh with each other including lots of extra work in training. It’s clear what we need to do, it’s the execution that needs to improve.”

“All sides go through a dip in form throughout the course of a season. You can’t ride the crest of a wave all the time. Hopefully, we’re getting ours out of the way early.”

“But there’s nothing better than a Friday night at the Mem to get us back on track. It should be all Bristol fans in that ground on Friday night and just one win will lift the confidence of the players.”

The Head Coach also admitted that Sale will present a tough challenge:

“Sale haven’t conceded a try yet, their defence has been highly organised. They play a big territorial game and don’t tend to run ball until they’re in the final third of the field. Charlie Hodgson sits miles back in the pocket and you can’t lay a hand on him!”

“They’ve been very successful in recent years and you can’t take that away from them.”

Bristol Rugby:

Luke Arscott; Tom Arscott, Neil Brew, Ed Barnes, David Lemi, Adrian Jarvis, Graeme Beveridge; Alex Clarke, Scott Linklater, Jason Hobson; Mariano Sambucetti, Nathan Budgett; Alfie To’oala, Joe El Abd (capt), Dan Ward-Smith


David Blaney, Peter Bracken, Roy Winters, Redford Pennycook, Haydn Thomas, Vunga Lilo, Greg Barden.

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