Hill demands action

Bristol boss Richard Hill wants his team to make things happen when they tackle Guinness Premiership leaders Gloucester at the Memorial Stadium on Sunday. [more]

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Bristol boss Richard Hill wants his team to make things happen when they tackle Guinness Premiership leaders Gloucester at the Memorial Stadium on Sunday.

Hill hopes lessons have been learned from a 27-0 drubbing against Gloucester less than two months ago.

And Bristol, who have lost three and drawn one of their last five league games, need to deliver.

Although Leeds Carnegie’s increasingly perilous plight suggests relegation worries will not be an issue this season, Bristol must start stringing some victories together in the pursuit of Heineken Cup qualification.

Hill said: "It’s going to be tough. Gloucester are a high-quality side with threats all over the field.

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"Normally, you can find one or two areas in a team which you can negate, but Gloucester have quality all over.

"So, our defence will have to be better than it has been the last couple of times we’ve played them, and we will have to get our set-piece right.

"We are hoping to go and attack Gloucester.

"You can’t just sit back against them and defend, which we were guilty of up at Kingsholm in December.

"So, we will have to go out and play some rugby, which should make it an entertaining afternoon."

Hill rests England hooker Mark Regan to the bench, but Gloucester are boosted by returning red rose trio Iain Balshaw, Lesley Vainikolo and Luke Narraway, plus fit-again Italy lock Marco Bortolami.

Reigning Premiership champions Leicester, having moved just a point behind Gloucester after beating their title rivals 20-13 last weekend, tackle London Irish at the Madejski Stadium on Sunday.

And while England flanker Lewis Moody remains absent due an Achilles tendon injury, Tigers head coach Marcelo Loffreda welcomes back four players – Ben Kay, Geordan Murphy, Martin Castrogiovanni and James Hamilton – from RBS 6 Nations duty.

Irish rugby director Brian Smith said: "This fixture last season was a very hard-fought encounter.

"It resulted in a significant victory for us. The win was based on outstanding defence and clinical attack.

"We will have to replicate that performance if we are to get a result against one of the most powerful squads in Europe."

Saracens, still firmly in the title play-off zone, head to Newcastle on Sunday on a revenge mission.

The Falcons grounded them 22-19 at Vicarage Road five days after Christmas, and Saracens rugby director Alan Gaffney said: "We didn’t perform on that occasion, and we know that we owe them one.

"The players realise they let themselves down in that game and they want to put that right.

"I don’t feel we are playing anywhere near the level that we want to be, but we have been able to win games.

"We still need to be more patient and accurate in what we are doing, and that is the challenge for us this weekend."

Captain Neil de Kock and centre Andy Farrell return after injury, although Saracens have lost full-back strike weapon Brent Russell to a thigh injury.

Newcastle, meanwhile, include their current quartet of England backs – Jonny Wilkinson, Toby Flood, Jamie Noon and Mathew Tait.

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