Perry impresses

Shaun Perry will report for England duty after staking an irresistible claim to make his Test debut against New Zealand at Twickenham on November 5. [more]

Lions Australia Tour 2013

Shaun Perry will report for England duty after staking an irresistible claim to make his Test debut against New Zealand at Twickenham on November 5.

Perry produced a scrum-half masterclass in front of England head coach Andy Robinson and backs supremo Brian Ashton as Bristol moved two points clear at the Guinness Premiership summit by defeating previously unbeaten rivals Wasps 26-21.

The 28-year-old created two of Bristol’s four tries, while he also proved a defensive inspiration when Wasps threatened and delivered an immaculate tactical kicking game, often under considerable pressure.

The battle for England’s number nine shirt to face the All Blacks appears a straight fight between Perry and Gloucester scrum-half Peter Richards.

But Perry might have edged ahead as Robinson prepares for a three-day training camp with his 41-man elite squad at Loughborough University.

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"I thought that Shaun had a very strong, powerful game," said Bristol head coach Richard Hill, after touchdowns from Darren Crompton, David Lemi, Dan Ward-Smith and Josh Taumalolo gave the unfancied west country club maximum points.

"In two of our earlier games this month he took too much on and tried to beat London Irish and Saracens on his own, but we had a little chat and I thought the balance to his game (against Wasps) was just right.

"You have got to be composed and make the right decisions, and he kicked, passed and ran at the right times."

With Perry calling the shots, Bristol continue to make a mockery of the bookmakers’ pre-season odds that installed them as relegation favourites.

They have claimed 16 points from a possible 20 in seeing off Wasps, Worcester and London Irish, while also drawing with Saracens, and Hill admitted: "None of us can believe it."

"It is a spectacular start, and none of us could really have dreamt we would be where we are after four games, but it is thoroughly deserved.

"We had a target of gaining 14 points from our first five league games, but we will need to reassess that now."

Wasps rugby director Ian McGeechan was left to bemoan a lack of execution from his team, although wing Paul Sackey scored two tries in four minutes during the first half.

"It was a game we could have won, but we were not as patient as we should have been."

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