Preview: Bristol v Northampton

Date published: September 9 2016

Ian Evans is set for his first start of the campaign when Bristol welcome Northampton Saints to Ashton Gate on Sunday.

The inclusion of the British and Irish Lion is one of two changes to Andy Robinson’s side ahead of the Round Two clash.

Gavin Henson fails to recover from a dead leg, so Ben Mosses starts in the midfield as Bristol go in search of a first win of the Premiership campaign.

“This is the first chance for the team to run out at the completed Ashton Gate and it’s an inspiring arena for our players,” said director of rugby Andy Robinson.

“It’s vital our supporters create a fierce atmosphere to help drive the team’s performance. We have reviewed last weekend in detail and we will be seeking the same attitude, commitment and eighty-minute display once again.”

Luke Arscott (calf), Marc Jones (knee), David Lemi (knee), Callum Sheedy (hamstring), and Glen Townson (knee) remain unavailable, while Nick Fenton-Wells misses his final game through suspension.

Meanwhile, the Saints side headed for Ashton Gate on Sunday shows three changes to the one that kicked off the Premiership season last weekend.

Ahsee Tuala moves from wing to full-back with George North the first new face in the backline, while at fly-half Stephen Myler starts.

The tight five is unchanged, but in the back row Teimana Harrison moves up from the bench onto the openside. Among the replacements, Mikey Haywood returns to the matchday 23.

Form: Bristol obtained their first point in Premiership Rugby since March 2009, courtesy of their 19-21 defeat to Harlequins at Twickenham. Bristol have played 5 previous Premiership Rugby matches at Ashton Gate, winning 3 and losing 2, one of which, in April 2007, was classified as a Gloucester home game. Northampton Saints tripped up at home to Bath on Saturday and have not lost both of their opening two encounters in Aviva Premiership Rugby sine the inaugural season of 1997/8. The Saints won their most recent away game 28-20 at Gloucester in round 22 last season, and have not won two in a row on the road since December 2014. The Saints beat Bristol the last time the two teams met: 30-8 at Franklin’s Gardens in January 2009 but have not triumphed on Bristol soil in Premiership Rugby since a 19-16 victory in April 2006.

The teams:

Bristol: 15 Jack Wallace, 14 Ryan Edwards, 13 Will Hurrell, 12 Ben Mosses, 11 Tom Varndell, 10 Tusi Pisi, 9 Will Cliff, 8 Jordan Crane, 7 Jack Lam (c), 6 Jon Fisher, 5 Ben Glynn, 4 Ian Evans, 3 Gaston Cortes, 2 Ross McMillan, 1 Soane Tonga’uiha
Replacements: 16 Chris Brooker, 17 Kyle Traynor, 18 Anthony Perenise, 19 James Phillips, 20 Olly Robinson, 21 Mitch Eadie, 22 Rhodri Williams, 23 Adrian Jarvis

Northampton: 15 Ahsee Tuala, 14 Ken Pisi, 13 George Pisi, 12 Luther Burrell, 11 George North, 10 Stephen Myler, 9 Lee Dickson, 8 Louis Picamoles, 7 Teimana Harrison, 6 Tom Wood (c), 5 Michael Paterson, 4 Courtney Lawes, 3 Kieran Brookes, 2 Dylan Hartley, 1 Alex Waller
Replacements: 16 Mikey Haywood, 17 Campese Ma’afu, 18 Paul Hill, 19 Sam Dickinson, 20 Jamie Gibson, 21 Nic Groom, 22 Harry Mallinder, 23 Ben Foden

Date: Saturday, September 11
Venue: Ashton Gate
Kick-off: 15:00 BST (14:00 GMT)
Referee: Craig Maxwell-Keys
Assistant Referees: Dean Richards, Peter Allan
TMO: Graham Hughes