Rugby Union: Adams back for Bristol

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The Independent Online
Bristol's Phil Adams reacquaints himself with a rugby pitch today when he returns to action for the home game against Blackheath after completing a 60-day suspension.

The 33-year-old lock was banned for stamping on the Northampton lock Jon Phillips in the league game at Franklins Gardens in September. Adams had to face the Rugby Football Union disciplinary panel despite having originally been fined by his club the equivalent of six weeks' wages.

Adams comes back for the Pilkington Cup fifth-round tie to partner the England lock Simon Shaw instead of Chad Eagle, who has a bruised ankle, while Dean Dewdney is preferred at scrum-half to Richard Smith. Craig Barrow continues to deputise at No 8 for the club captain Martin Corry, who is out with an ankle injury. The former England full-back Paul Hull will lead the side.

Blackheath mount their bid to cause a cup upset on the former All Black duo of director of coaching Hika Reid and the captain John Gallagher. The Division Two side also include the former Wasps players Garry Holmes, Chris Wilkins and Steve Shortland, plus Mark Russell from Harlequins.

Bristol will be weary of taking the challenge of the oldest club in the world lightly. Blackheath started the season brightly and although they have seen a slump in their league form of late they have still taken some notable scalps, including that of big-spending Bedford.

Bristol, however, should prove too strong as they have impressed recently with some determined performances in defeat against the might of Leicester and Bath.