Rugby Union: Jones to return in Bristol's relegation tussle

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Robert Jones, the former Wales and Lions scrum-half, is back in the Bristol side for their relegation confrontation at West Hartlepool on Saturday, nine weeks after undergoing keyhole surgery for a prolapsed disc.

Jones, who played in Bristol United's 27-25 defeat away to Gloucester United on Saturday, returns to boost Bristol's hopes of avoiding the drop against a West Hartlepool side who have won just one of their nine matches this season.

"It is a great opportunity for West on their own pitch to get a couple of league points off a side in a similar position," Jones said.

"Unfortunately we haven't always been able to put out our strongest sides, due to a number of injuries, when competing with the top sides this season. We then started to fall behind but we know that with one good win that could all change dramatically."

Bristol will be without the stand-off Paul Burke and the flanker David Corkery, on Ireland international duty against Italy at Lansdowne Road.

Craig Barrow comes into the side for Corkery, with Mark Tainton playing alongside Jones. Kevin Maggs replaces Simon Martin at centre.

There will be pitch inspection at lunchtime tomorrow before Bristol fly to Teesside.

Moseley, of the Second Division, have continued their recruitment campaign by signing the former Newport and Coventry scrum-half Richard Turner from his home town club, Hereford.

The United States Eagles yesterday became the latest victims of the freezing weather. The tourists were due to kick off their four-match tour against Emerging Wales at Cardiff Arms Park, but not even the ground's undersoil heating system could overcome the elements.

The match was postponed because of a frozen pitch two hours before kick- off, which now means the Americans will start against Neath on Saturday, weather permitting.

Leicester will make a round trip of nearly 200 miles to Worcester as they build up to Saturday's European Cup semi-final against Toulouse. The Welford Road pitch is covered in plastic sheeting and has a hot air tent suspended over it for further insurance against the severe weather. All other pitches in the area are snowbound, but the enterprising Worcester club have an indoor pitch which Leicester will use.

The dispute between Bath and their coach, Brian Ashton, is expected to be resolved this week. Ashton is concerned that his coaching and selectorial role has been eroded under the managership of John Hall. He is also seeking a clearer definition of the chain of command at the Courage League club. Ashton has, by mutual consent, been on an extended holiday since last month's Pilkington Cup tie against London Irish.