Bridgend Ravens resume their British & Irish Cup campaign at the Riverside Hardware Brewery Field this Saturday (8th, KO 2:30pm) with the first of two back-to-back fixtures against Bristol.
Bridgend sit third in Pool 1 of the competition, following a loss out in Belfast to Ulster Ravens and victory at home to Cardiff. They go in to this weekend's match on the back of a narrow 16-19 defeat at the hands of the Blue and Blacks at The Arms Park where they were unlucky not to get more than a losing bonus point.
Clubs from the English Championship top six of the eight B&I Cup groups (with Leinster A narrowly leading in Pool 5 and Llandovery out in front of Pool 8) and the Ravens' opponents Bristol are one of them. They too overturned Cardiff in their opening match before battling to an impressive 34-28 victory over Ulster. The men from the south west of England are also having a reasonable domestic season, currently occupying fifth place in The Championship. They come in to this fixture off the back of three straight league victories, including a 43-16 hammering of London Scottish.
In the backs, Ben Thomas continues at full back, with the other changes being the return of Tom Habberfield at scrum half and Sam Campbell at centre, where he partners Nathan Edwards. Elsewhere, it's as you were against Cardiff. In the front row, Chris Francis is replaced at hooker by Ashleigh James, who makes up a strong front row with Ken Dowding and Jonny Thomas. Shaun O'Rourke and Alex Jones continue in the boilerhouse, with captain Jonathan Vaughan, Scott Hicks and Andrew Waite, fresh from his try scoring appearance last weekend at the Arms Park, in the back row.
15 Ben Thomas 14 Luke Morgan 13 Nathan Edwards 12 Sam Campbell 11 Ashley Evans 10 Jamie Murphy 9 Tom Habberfield 1 Ken Dowding 2 Ashleigh James 3 Jonny Thomas 4 Shaun O'Rourke 5 Alex Jones 6 Andrew Waite 7 Jonathan Vaughan 8 Scott Hicks
Replacements: Chris Francis (FR), Gary Carpenter (FR), Lee Davies, Arthur Ellis, Steve Winn, Rhys Ward Jones, Chris Williams
For Bristol, Tom Slater is set for his first competitive start of the season as coach Liam Middleton names a strong line-up. There are seven changes in total from the side that beat London Scottish - five of which are in the pack.
In a relatively unchanged backline, Matt Williams makes his first start since the B&I Cup victory over Cardiff in October. Scotland international Kyle Traynor returns to a new-look front row alongside Rhys Lawrence and Gaston Cortes, while Ben Glynn and Marco Mama are also included.
Middleton opts for a five forwards and two backs split on the bench, with George Biagi included among the replacements.
15 Jack Tovey 14 George Watkins 13 Luke Eves 12 Ben Mosses, Matt Williams; Adrian Jarvis, Tom Slater; Kyle Traynor, Rhys Lawrence, Gaston Cortes, Ben Glynn, Glen Townson, Iain Grieve (c), Marco Mama, Alafoti Faosiliva.
Replacements: Tom Channon, Mark Lilley, Wayne Thompson, George Biagi, Mitch Eadie, James Grindal, Tristan Roberts.