Planet Rugby

Preview: Bristol v Northampton

14th November 2008 12:11

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Jim Mallinder is happy at the saints

Success: Malinder wants another win this weekend

Northampton director of rugby Jim Mallinder says that the Saints' recent form will count for nothing if they don't leave Bristol with a Guinness Premiership win on Sunday.

During October Saints earned a place in the EDF Energy Cup semi-final and two wins in the European Challenge Cup. But Mallinder insisted that success in these two competitions should not come at the expense of Guinness Premiership survival.

"Staying in the Guinness Premiership is the ultimate aim for our season and Sunday's match is key in our campaign," he said.

"Bristol have not had the best of starts but they are playing well without getting the final result. They have been competitive at the Memorial Stadium, running Sale close in the league and leading Saracens for most of their EDF Energy Cup match two weeks ago.

"They have some dangerous players and we cannot go into the game with any complacency. We have only got two wins in the Premiership from the first five rounds and the trip to Bristol is very important to generate some momentum in the league."

Bristol's Head Coach Richard Hill has opted for as much continuity as possible, making just three changes to his starting line up.

The one change in the back-line sees Ed Barnes return after recovering from a hamstring injury and he takes over at inside centre from Luke Eves.

Up front Robert Sidoli replaces injured compatriot Nathan Budgett in the boiler room and Alfie To'oala comes in for Matt Salter on the blind side flank.

Form: Bristol's only win in their last 16 matches in all competitions since March was 39-11 at home to Toulon in the European Challenge Cup on 17 October. Bristol's most recent victory in the Guinness Premiership was 28-8 over Newcastle at Kingston Park on 16 March. Northampton Saints have won four of their last five encounters in all competitions, whilst the Saints most recent win in the Guinness Premiership was 24-20 at home to Wasps on 20 September. Bristol won both Premiership encounters with Northampton the last time they met in season 2006-07, however the Saints were victorious 30-17 in the EDF Energy Cup at Franklin's Gardens on 4 October.

The Teams:

Bristol: 15 Vunga Lilo, 14 Tom Arscott, 13 Neil Brew, 12 Ed Barnes, 11 David Lemi, 10 Adrian Jarvis, 9 Graeme Beveridge, 8 Dan Ward-Smith, 7 Joe El Abd (c), 6 Alfie To'oala, 5 Robert Sidoli, 4 Roy Winters, 3 Jason Hobson, 2 Mark Regan, 1 Alex Clarke.

Replacements: 16 Scott Linklater, 17 Darren Crompton, 18 Mariano Sambucetti, 19 Iain Grieve, 20 Shaun Perry, 21 Luke Eves, 22 Mat Turner.

Northampton: 15 Ben Foden, 14 Chris Ashton, 13 Chris Mayor, 12 James Downey, 11 Bruce Reihana (c), 10 Stephen Myler, 9 Lee Dickson, 8 Roger Wilson, 7 Mark Easter, 6 Mark Hopley, 5 Christian Day, 4 Ignacio Fernandez Lobbe, 3 Barry Stewart, 2 Paul Shields, 1 Tom Smith.

Replacements: 16 Joe Gray, 17 Soane Tonga'uiha, 18 Juandre Kruger, 19 Courtney Lawes, 20 Alan Dickens, 21 Carlos Spencer, 22 Nils Mordt.

Date: Sunday 16 November, 2008

Kick-off: 15:00 GMT

Venue: Memorial Stadium

Referee: Dean Richards

Touch judges: Brian Robertson, Roger Baileff

Assessor: Tony Spreadbury

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