Hill opts for Bristol’s experience against Newcastle

Bristol Rugby Head Coach Richard Hill (pictured) has called up some of his more experienced players for the tough trip north to Newcastle on Friday evening.

It’s a big game for Bristol as they travel to the North East for their fourth Guinness Premiership match of the season still seeking that elusive first victory.

And Kingston Park on a Friday night is not an easy place to emerge from with a win as Bristol found out two seasons ago when they took an unbeaten league record into the equivalent fixture but lost 26-21.

So, Hill has turned to some of his battle hardened veterans, the likes of Matt Salter and Roy Winters (pictured), for their first Guinness Premiership starts of the season and Mark Regan is named amongst the replacements.

The backs are also reshuffled. Adrian Jarvis is ruled out having tweaked a knee against Sale Sharks last weekend with Ed Barnes taking over at fly half.

Luke Arscott gets his first run out for the team at inside centre and Tongan international Vunga Lilo will make his full competitive debut for the club as he starts at fullback.

Hill explained why he had turned to some of his most trusted lieutenants this weekend:

“We’ll need as much experience as possible in the squad replying on Roy Winters, Matt Salter and Ronnie.”

“Having that morale in the dressing room makes a huge difference, especially when playing Newcastle on a Friday night away, which is very tough indeed…not an easy place to go and win.”

“It’s a very pivotal game for both but particularly for us because we don’t have a win yet. There is a long way to go and we’ve only got as many points out of the three teams we’ve played so far as we did last year. So we’re in the same position and we got ourselves out of it last year.”

“But this time last year we beat Newcastle away and we have to put in as much effort to secure a win this Friday.”

And on the subject of Vunga Lilo making his debut:

“He’s played three United games and looks very accomplished. It’s a big test for him but I have every confidence in him. He’s played on the World Cup stage so I don’t think he should be too phased by Newcastle.”

“He’s quiet, but very knowledgeable. I’ve had no hesitation putting him in, I think he’s a fine player.”

Bristol Rugby:

Vunga Lilo; Tom Arscott, Neil Brew, Luke Arscott, David Lemi; Ed Barnes, Graeme Beveridge; Alex Clarke, Scott Linklater, Jason Hobson; Roy Winters, Nathan Budgett; Matt Salter, Joe El Abd (capt), Dan Ward-Smith


Mark Regan, Peter Bracken, Robert Sidoli, Andrew Blowers, Haydn Thomas, Chris Ashwin, Greg Barden.



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