Preview: Edinburgh v Cardiff Blues

Date published: November 21 2014

Edinburgh welcome back several players from injury for their Guinness PRO12 meeting with Cardiff Blues at BT Murrayfield on Sunday.

Edinburgh will welcome back several players from injury to their line-up for their PRO12 clash with Cardiff Blues.

Winger Tom Brown, who has had a lengthy lay-off since sustaining a knee injury against Munster last season, returns along with lock Ollie Atkins, who had an ankle injury and captain, Mike Coman.

Flanker Roddy Grant, who has made a speedy recovery following a broken cheekbone, and Sam Beard, who was concussed, were both casualties in Edinburgh’s injury-strewn encounter with Lyon last month and return to the starting line-up.

Coming on to the bench, after six months away from the game due to shoulder surgery, is centre Matt Scott, while lock Fraser McKenzie and hooker Neil Cochrane return following knee and hamstring injuries respectively.

Scott, speaking exclusively to Edinburgh Rugby TV, said: “I’m delighted to be named in the squad. It’s been a long six months and I’ve found it tough to sit on the sidelines.

“Rehab’s gone really well and I’m happy that both my shoulders are in good enough condition to come back and play. It’s taken a lot of hard work, especially from the physio team.”

In all, there are seven changes to the team that started against Leinster at the RDS last month, before the international break. In addition to those previously mentioned, prop Rory Sutherland replaces Allan Dell, injured during the encounter in Dublin, and Ben Toolis returns at lock.

Named on the bench, as well as Scott, McKenzie and Cochrane, are scrum-half Grayson Hart and new signing, prop Grant Shiells.

“It is good to have a number of players returning from injury, particularly bearing in mind our heavy injury list,” said head coach Alan Solomons.

“It is great to have Matt back in the mix. I appreciate that it will take him and the others returning from long-term injuries two or three games to get back into the swing of things.

“However the fact is we are happy to have them back and everyone is looking forward to Sunday’s match.”

Meanwhile, new recruit Gareth Anscombe will make his Cardiff Blues debut after being named at full-back for the Guinness PRO12 clash.

The former Super Rugby star is one of five changes to the Cardiff Blues team that started the last league fixture with Munster at the start of November. Dan Fish is the other change in the back division as he is named on the left wing.

Macauley Cook comes in to partner Jarrad Hoeata in the second-row while Ellis Jenkins is rewarded for his outstanding form in the LV= Cup with the number seven jersey in Scotland.

Kristian Dacey is named in the starting line-up at hooker, with Matthew Rees ruled out with injury, and Adam Jones will captain the region for the very first time.

Hot prospect Garyn Smith could also make his league debut for Blues with the Academy product named among the replacements after also impressing in the LV=Cup.

“We’ve enjoyed a good period of results in both cup competitions and now look forward to the resumption of the Guinness PRO12 for a crucial period of fixtures up until Christmas,” said director of rugby Mark Hammett.

“We’re well aware of the challenge we face up in Scotland against Edinburgh. They’re well coached by South African Head Coach Alan Solomans and, from what I’ve seen of them, they have a strong territorial game and if you get that right it is hard to stop.

“We’re keen to get Gareth (Anscombe) involved and so he will start the game at full-back. A number of other players will be keen to step up, continue the good form of recent weeks and impress while others are away during the autumn international window.”

Form: Edinburgh’s three game winning run in all competitions came to an end at Leinster in Round 7. The Scotsmen’s two victories in the Guinness PRO12 this season were 14-13 at Munster in round 1 and 24-10 over the Dragons at BT Murrayfield in round 6. Edinburgh have lost only once to a Welsh region at BT Murrayfield in their last five encounters: 9-22 to the Scarlets in September 2013. Cardiff Blues’ single PRO12 win so far this season came in round 1 at Zebre. The Blues have won on their last two visits to Scotland: against Glasgow in the European Cup and Edinburgh in the PRO12. Edinburgh have won only one of their last eight encounters with the Blues in the PRO12: 21-19 at the Arms Park on 7th September 2012, whilst the Welshmen’s overall record at BT Murrayfield in the competition is an impressive won six lost three.

The teams:

Edinburgh: 15 Nick McLennan, 14 Dougie Fifi, 13 Sam Beard, 12 Andries Strauss, 11 Tom Brown, 10 Tom Heathcote, 9 Sam Hidalgo-Clyne, 8 David Denton, 7 Roddy Grant, 6 Mike Coman (capt), 5 Ben Toolis, 4 Ollie Atkins, 3 Willem Nel, 2 James Hilterbrand, 1 Rory Sutherland.
Replacements: 16 Neil Cochrane, 17 Grant Shiells, 18 John Andress, 19 Fraser McKenzie, 20 Tomas Leonardi, 21 Grayson Hart, 22 Greig Tonks, 23 Matt Scott.

Cardiff Blues: 15 Gareth Anscombe, 14 Richard Smith, 13 Adam Thomas, 12 Gavin Evans, 11 Dan Fish, 10 Gareth Davies, 9 Lloyd Williams, 8 Manoa Vosawai, 7 Ellis Jenkins, 6 Josh Turnbull, 5 Macauley Cook, 4 Jarrad Hoeata, 3 Adam Jones (c), 2 Kristian Dacey, 1 Sam Hobbs.
Replacements: 16 Rhys Williams, 17 Thomas Davies, 18 Scott Andrews, 19 Chris Dicomidis, 20 Josh Navidi, 21 Lewis Jones, 22 Garyn Smith, 23 Geraint Walsh.

Date: Sunday, November 23
Kick-off: 16:00 GMT
Venue: Murrayfield
Referee: Leo Colgan (Ireland)
Assistant referees: David Changleng (Scotland), Stephen Hart (Scotland)
Television match official: Iain Ramage (Scotland)
Timekeeper: John Montgomery (Scotland)
Assessor: Gordon McMurray (Scotland)