Planet Rugby

Preview: Bristol v Leeds

30th November 2007 12:09

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Scott Armstrong in his Leeds photo

Armstrong: Comes in for his first senior start

Winger Scott Armstrong is set to become the latest player to make his full debut for Leeds Carnegie from the club's highly successful RFU Academy.

Leeds travel to Bristol this Sunday for their third and final game in the Pool stages of the EDF Energy Cup.

Armstrong, 21, is a student at Leeds Metropolitan University and made a try-scoring appearance as a replacement earlier this season in the same competition against Saracens at Headingley.

There is also a possibility of a debut for forward Andy Boyde, another Academy product, who is included amongst the replacements.

Joe Bedford will captain his home town club for the first time, however he successful skippered Rotherham last season as they pushed Leeds all the way for the National Division One title.

Scotland international Jon Dunbar will make his first appearance in the XV since suffering a torn hamstring in the second game of the season alongside Argentina's Martin Schusterman and Rhys Oakley in the back row.

New loan-signing Adam Balding is cup-tied for this competition and therefore unavailable for selection.

Meanwhile, Bristol coach Richard Hill will also take the opportunity to introduce some of the club's promising youngsters to first team action.

Hill shakes things up for this final group match but still names a 22 which features six full internationals and welcomes back skipper Matt Salter.

Luke Arscott, Lee Robinson and Jason Strange retain their places in the backline from last weekend's defeat at Bath with Sam Cox and Kevin Maggs forming a new centre partnership and Craig Morgan and Brian O'Riordan returning to the starting line-up.

It's all change up front with Ray Hogan set to make his first competitive start for Bristol but he has plenty of experience alongside him in the front row in David Blaney and Darren Crompton.

And it's a similar tale in the back five, where young prospects Dave Attwood, Redford Pennycook and James Phillips feature alongside the experienced Gareth Llewellyn and Matt Salter.

Hill explained that Sunday will be a test for some of the new faces but that there is plenty of experience around them.

"It will be a big occasion for some of our younger players starting at home in a competitive game," he said.

"These lads are really fired up. There are a number of young players there looking for a long career at Bristol.

"There's a real opportunity for these lads to convince me that they can perform at this level. If they can stand out then they will get further opportunities at this level.

"It's also good to see Kevin Maggs back. He's absolutely raring to go and he and Sam Cox make a good combination both very direct and committed.

"We've picked a team that is keen to do well. A number of players have points to prove and want to keep their places in the first team.

"We're trying to maintain a good home record and ensure that opposing players get used to losing at the Memorial Stadium.

"I understand Leeds may rest one or two key players but they do have a very good Academy and produce excellent young players.

"The team they bring down will be very committed and try and run the ball around and, if we're not careful, their enthusiasm might get the better of us."

Form: This game has no bearing on who will progress to the semi-final stage of this season's EDF Energy Cup. Bristol's only home defeat in their last nine matches in all competitions since last March was 13-26 to Leicester in the Premiership on 16 September. Leeds Carnegie won their last away outing 23-20 at Dax in the European Challenge Cup but are still searching for that elusive first ever victory in the EDF Energy Cup. Leeds have won just once in five previous visits to Memorial Stadium: 17-12 in the Premiership on 2 February 2003.

Bristol: 15 Luke Arscott, 14 Lee Robinson, 13 Sam Cox, 12 Kevin Maggs, 11 Craig Morgan, 10 Jason Strange, 9 Brian O'Riordan, 8 James Phillips, 7 Redford Pennycook, 6 Matt Salter (c), 5 Gareth Llewellyn, 4 Dave Attwood, 3 Darren Crompton, 2 David Blaney, 1 Ray Hogan.

Replacements: 16 Scott Linklater, 17 Dave Hilton, 18 Josh Brown, 19 Chevvy Pennycook, 20 Graeme Beveridge, 21 Ed Barnes, 22 Luke Eves.

Leeds: 15 Jon Goodridge, 14 Scott Armstrong, 13 Jonny Hepworth, 12 Lee Blackett, 11 Apo Satala, 10 James Brooks, 9 Joe Bedford (c), 8 Rhys Oakley, 7 Martin Schusterman, 6 Jon Dunbar, 5 Pablo Bouza, 4 Erik Lund, 3 Adam Hopcroft, 2 Phil Nilsen, 1 Fosi Pala'amo.

Replacements: 16 Mike MacDonald, 17 Vili Ma'asi, 18 Michael Cusack, 19 Andy Boyde, 20 Darren Edwards, 21 Rob Vickerman, 22 John Holtby.

Date: Sunday, 2 December

Kick-off: 15:00 GMT

Venue: Memorial Ground

Referee: Ashley Rowden (England)

Touch judges: Roger Baileff (England), Ken Stewart (England)

Television match official: Matt Peters (England)

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