Hill happy with Bristol

Richard Hill surveyed the latest stage of a major rebuilding job after his Bristol side held European champions Wasps, and admitted: "It is going really well." [more]

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Richard Hill surveyed the latest stage of a major rebuilding job after his Bristol side held European champions Wasps, and admitted: "It is going really well."

Bristol’s durability since they regained Guinness Premiership status in 2005 has largely been down to the efforts of a veteran front-five.

Dave Hilton, Darren Crompton, Mark Regan and Gareth Llewellyn are all the wrong side of 35, yet their ability to churn out high-class performances helped power Bristol back into the Heineken Cup this season.

While England World Cup star Regan is still going strong, Crompton increasingly fills the role of an impact substitute, and Hilton and Llewellyn have made just seven starts between them this term.

Hilton currently captains Bristol’s successful second team, with former Wales lock Llewellyn set to call time on his career next summer.

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And Hill knows it is essential the successors – players like props Alex Clarke and Jason Hobson, together with New Zealand lock Sean Hohneck – are ready to take over permanently when the time arrives.

Hill said: "The rebuilding up-front is going really well.
"Sean Hohneck is dominating line-outs, while Clarke and Hobson are pushing Hilton and Crompton. It is crucial these guys come through.

"When the 30-plus brigade decide to hang up their boots, when they decide to finish, we must make sure we have able replacements."

The Bristol pack stood toe-to-toe with Wasps’ juggernaut eight, although it was one of the west country club’s exciting young backs who took centre-stage.

Wing Tom Arscott, who celebrated his 20th birthday only four months ago, scored two first-half tries after capitalising on

Wasps full-back Mark Van Gisbergen’s amateurish defending.
Arscott’s elder brother, full-back Luke, also added a try, underlining Hill’s supreme ability to identify and recruit talent from lower divisions.

Hill added: "Tom has been a revelation. He is a very fine player – a natural try-scorer with good power, acceleration and great feet."

Replacement Ed Barnes’ injury time penalty saw Bristol claim a 23-23 draw, making it eight games unbeaten in all competitions at the Memorial Stadium.

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