Hone's promotion heroes aim to make it a double celebration with cup final victory
AVONMOUTH bid to complete a notable double triumph tonight when they face Thornbury in the Charles Saunders Combination Cup final at the Memorial Stadium (7.30pm).
Skipper Neil Evans' squad showed great character on Saturday to secure promotion to the national leagues with victory as the away side in a South West One play-off draw at Salisbury which went to extra time.
And the great majority of the men who came through 100 minutes of pressure rugby in Wiltshire will now put their bodies on the line as Avonmouth attempt to lift the historic trophy for the eighth time.
Head coach Wayne Hone has made just one change from the line-up that started at Salisbury, centre Gary Collier reverting to the bench with Sam Thompson handed a chance in midfield alongside Chris Boyle.
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Andy Taylor, who produced an immense performance in the play-off tie, continues at full-back, with Charlie Reynolds, another stand-out performer in that game, on the wing.
Thornbury go into the match refreshed after a week off following the completion of their league campaign.
First-choice goalkicker Tim Stephens, such a key figure in the club's success over the last couple of seasons, and full-back Craig Beyer return to the starting line-up after sitting out the surprise 8-3 semi-final victory at Clifton.
Player-coach Rob Higgitt, the former Bristol and Llanelli centre, was forced off during that game with a neck injury, but has recovered enough to be named on the replacements' bench.
There is only one change in the pack, veteran prop Jon Day coming into the line-up with Adam Hodgkins reverting to the bench.
Thornbury are making a debut appearance in the final, while Avonmouth last won the cup in 2010.
The clubs have already met twice this season in the league, Avonmouth winning 22-5 at Thornbury before Christmas and 36-22 on home soil last month.
Avonmouth: Andy Taylor; Chris Hamilton, Chris Boyle, Sam Thompson, Charlie Reynolds; Matt Belbin, Connor Power; Jamie Lloyd, Aiden Sloman, Grant Britton, Curtis Dash, Ryan Templar, Greg Long, Neil Evans (captain), Harry Hone. Replacements: Craig Britton, Chris Jeanes, Luke Mathews, Dan Lee, Shaun Palmer, Gary Collier, Joe Wearne.
Thornbury: Craig Beyer; Ollie Fleming, Tim Stephens, Dai Matthews, Dan Hussey; Liam Rinn, Jak CORRECT Evans; Chris Till, Luke Workman, Jon Day, Giles Bristol, Paul Lambert, Tom Guzman, Liam Pemberton, George Maggs (captain). Replacements: Mike Sander, Adam Hodgkins, Nick Balman, George Jackson, Stuart Adams, Rob Higgitt, Rich Bennett.
Referee: Tom Foley. Touch judges: Pete Huckle, Richard Parker Sedgemoor (all Bristol Society).
Old Bristolians attempt to make it a trophy hat-trick tonight in the final of the Renault Somerset Vase against Gordano at Weston-super-Mare (7.30pm).
The Failand side have already secured promotion to Western Counties North as Gloucester Premier champions and won the Charles Saunders Combination Vase.
The club's 2nds have also surpassed all expectations with a run to the final of the Somerset Vase.
Frampton Cotterell rounded off their season with three tour matches.
Tries from Mark Smith, Dane Cook (2) and Ed Spalding helped an A team defeat Swanage & Wareham 28-0, before Frampton lost a vets' fixture 24-20 despite touchdowns from Mike Weaver, Brian Rides and Barry Whitehead.
There was also time to squeeze in one last match on the way home, against former player Richard Lloyd's Salisbury XV, the travellers going down 20-19, with Simon Belsten, Joe Ferris and Tony Bleakman touching down.
Frampton's junior section wrap up their campaign with matches on Saturday at under-13, under-14 and under-15 level against French friends Parisis.