Peel eyes Twickenham victory

Mon, 29 Aug 2016 15:41
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IN THE SPOTLIGHT: He never managed it as a player, but now in his first full season as a coach former British & Irish Lion and Wales' superstar Dwayne Peel has a Twickenham victory in his sights.

Premiership new boys Bristol travel to rugby HQ to face local boys Harlequins on the opening weekend of the season at the blockbuster London Double Header event.

It will be a baptism of fire in the league for Bristol, who are returning to the top table of English rugby for the first time since 2009 after their promotion from the Championship.

They will not have to wait long for their first home game at Ashton Gate as they take on Northampton Saints there in Round Two, but Peel - in his first season as Andy Robinson's attack coach after retiring from playing in March - is adamant that the focus is on their curtain-raiser.

"To go to Twickenham first up is a fantastic way for us to start," he said. "Some Championship games last year were played in front of 500-600 people.

"So to take on Harlequins at Twickenham is a brilliant opportunity and the boys are buzzing for it – it can't come quick enough to be honest.

"We've been together a long time now; it's hard putting in the mileage on the treadmill every week so it will be a relief for everyone to get some competitive rugby under our belts.

"Of course Twickenham is up there in terms of the world’s best stadiums, but I never won there as a player so it is not a successful place for me.

"It's a massive stadium and fantastic to play there, but in many ways we couldn't have a tougher start playing Quins there, followed by Northampton, Wasps, Exeter Chiefs and Saracens.

"There are no easy games in this league, but we're relishing it and it would be great for our guys to show they are up to speed in the Premiership on the first week. They certainly will be after the first six weeks.”

Harlequins are a side in transition following the departure of Conor O'Shea and appointment of John Kingston as director of rugby in his stead. But Peel does not believe that will give Bristol – who won 20 of their 22 games in the Championship last season before beating Bedford Blues and Doncaster Knights in the play-offs – any advantage heading into the Twickenham showcase.

"There obviously will be some changes there, but I don’t think the side will change too much from last year," he added.

"They have great half-backs who run the game well and are elusive, so I can’t see them switching too many things around as it wouldn’t be in their interest.

"We'll have a good crack at them. Confidence is high in the squad at the moment, and it's just about going out there and getting up to the speed of the Premiership.

"Especially for the guys that haven’t played at this level, they will need to deliver a performance."

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FIXTURE GMT VENUE
Fri, 15 December 2017
Ulster v Harlequins 19h45 Kingspan Stadium
Sat, 16 December 2017
Treviso v Scarlets 13h00 Stadio Comunale di Monigo
Montpellier v Glasgow Warriors 13h00 Altrad Stadium
Leinster v Exeter Chiefs 15h15 Aviva Stadium
Racing Metro v Castres 15h15 Stade Yves-du-Manoir
Bath v Toulon 17h30 Recreation Ground
Sun, 17 December 2017
Wasps v La Rochelle 13h00 Ricoh Arena
Clermont Auvergne v Saracens 15h15 Stade Marcel-Michelin
Ospreys v Northampton Saints 15h15 Liberty Stadium
Leicester Tigers v Munster 17h30 Welford Road
Fri, 22 December 2017
Wasps v Gloucester 22h00 Ricoh Arena
Newcastle Falcons v Harlequins 22h00 Kingston Park
Northampton Saints v Exeter Chiefs 22h00 Franklin's Gardens
Leicester Tigers v Saracens 22h00 Welford Road
Worcester Warriors v Leicester Tigers 22h00 Sixways
Sale Sharks v Bath 22h00 AJ Bell Stadium
RESULT SCORE
Mon, 11 December 2017
Saracens v Clermont Auvergne 14 | 46
Sun, 10 December 2017
Exeter Chiefs v Leinster 8 | 18
Harlequins v Ulster 5 | 17
La Rochelle v Wasps 49 | 29
Sat, 09 December 2017
Munster v Leicester Tigers 33 | 10
Castres v Racing Metro 16 | 13
Northampton Saints v Ospreys 32 | 43
Toulon v Bath 24 | 20
Scarlets v Treviso 33 | 28
Fri, 08 December 2017
Glasgow Warriors v Montpellier 22 | 29
Sun, 03 December 2017
Harlequins v Saracens 20 | 19
Sat, 02 December 2017
Cheetahs v Scarlets 28 | 21
Munster v Ospreys 36 | 10
Wasps v Leicester Tigers 32 | 25
Treviso v Leinster 10 | 36
PREMIERSHIP
MORE LOGS
Team P W D L Pts
Exeter Chiefs 10 8 0 2 40
Gloucester 10 7 0 3 32
Saracens 10 6 0 4 31
Bath 10 6 0 4 30
Wasps 10 6 0 4 29
Leicester Tigers 10 6 0 4 28
Harlequins 10 5 0 5 24
Newcastle Falcons 10 5 0 5 24
Sale Sharks 10 4 0 6 23
Northampton Saints 10 4 0 6 22
Worcester Warriors 10 2 0 8 14
London Irish 10 1 0 9 8