Preview: Edinburgh v Connacht

Date published: September 15 2011

Edinburgh take on Connacht at Murrayfield Stadium on Friday, seeking their first win of the RaboDirect PRO12 season.

Edinburgh take on Connacht at Murrayfield Stadium on Friday, seeking their first win of the RaboDirect PRO12 season.

The club showed marked improvements against Ospreys at the Liberty Stadium last weekend but came away with just a losing bonus point after a late Justin Tipuric try snatched the win for the hosts in the dying seconds of a 26-19 loss.

Now, with his former club coming to the home of Edinburgh coach Michael Bradley is adamant that, while improvements are welcome, performance means little without points.

“The boys stuck in to the Ospreys match for the full 80 minutes which was important for us as it was something we targeted going in to the match. We now have to maintain that in all our games this season,” said Bradley.

“Our scramble defence and general effort on the day was a huge improvement and we got ourselves into a position to win the game but unfortunately didn't take it.

“We now need to a repeat that commitment and hunger and take any opportunities to win this game.

“It's very important that we get a 'W' on the board tomorrow, no matter how we do it, we need to get a win,” he added.

Connacht come to Murrayfield with two wins from two this season against Treviso away (11-9) and Scarlets at home (13-11) and will be keen to continue that run with a win over their former boss on his new patch.

Bradley expects a tough encounter against the Irish outfit.

“I know Connacht very well and I've been getting plenty of communication from them on the fact that they're looking down on us in the table,” he said.

“Connacht are always difficult when they have confidence and, rightly so at this point in the season, they should be very confident coming here tomorrow night.”

Bradley has made four personnel changes to the side that started against Ospreys last weekend with versatile captain Greig Laidlaw moving to the fly-half role he operated so successfully at the end of last season to form a new partnership with Chris Leck, who earns his first competitive start.

Lee Jones lines up on the wing in place of the injured Simon Webster (hamstring) while tighthead prop Jack Gilding and lock Steven Turnbull come into the pack.

The squad also welcome the return of promising young back-row forward, Stuart McInally, from a foot injury.

Meanwhile, Connacht have made just two changes to the starting XV and one on the bench and the squad remains largely similar to that which has won their first two matches of the PRO12.

Ethienne Reynecke starts at hooker with Adrian Flavin moving to the bench and Johnny O'Connor replaces Ray Ofisa at openside. Ofisa will take the place of TJ Anderson on the bench while Dylan Rogers replaces Stewart Maguire as the replacement tighthead prop.

Michael Swift will become the first Connacht player to reach 200 caps this weekend. The 1.98m and 119kg second row joined Connacht in 2000, holds the highest number of caps in the European Challenge Cup (62) and is just 5 caps short of Cardiff Blues' Deiniol Jones (135) who has the record number of league caps.

Connacht head to Murrayfield having never beaten Edinburgh there and coach Eric Elwood knows the challenge that awaits them.

“He (Michael Bradley) knows the lads inside out as he knows me and he knows what we are capable of.

“He knows our weaknesses and I think he might have a couple of surprises up his sleeves, but we would like to think we might have a couple of our own,” said Elwood.

“They will be under pressure, but we've never won in Murrayfield and we are going there to try and rectify that.”

Form: Edinburgh have lost their last three matches in the tournament, however the Scotsmen have won their last three home matches against Irish opponents. Another victory would emulate the best ever start to a season for Connacht, when they went on to win their opening five matches of the 2002/03 campaign. Connacht's only victory in their last ten visits to Scotland since 2006 was 19-17 at Glasgow in September 2010. The last five clashes between the two teams have all been won by the home side on the day, whilst Connacht's only previous victory at Murrayfield came on their maiden visit in March 2005.

The teams:

Edinburgh: 15 Tom Brown, 14 Lee Jones, 13 Jim Thompson, 12 James King, 11 Tim Visser, 10 Greig Laidlaw(c), 9 Chris Leck,8 David Denton, 7 Roddy Grant, 6 Sean Cox, 5 Steven Turnbull, 4 Grant Gilchrist, 3 Jack Gilding, 2 Steve Lawrie, 1 Kyle Traynor.
Replacements: 16 Andrew Kelly, 17 Robin Hislop, 18 Shaun Knight, 19 Esteban Lozada, 20 Stuart McInally, 21 Alex Black, 22 Gregor Hunter, 23 Matt Scott.

Connacht: 15 Gavin Duffy, 14 Mark McCrea, 13 Eoin Griffin, 12 Henry Fa'afili, 11 Tiernan O'Halloran, 10 Matthew Jarvis, 9 Frank Murphy, 8 George Naoupu, 7 Johnny O'Connor, 6 John Muldoon, 5 Mike McCarthy, 4 Michael Swift, 3 Rodney Ah You, 2 Ethienne Reynecke, 1 Ronan Loughney. Replacements: 16 Adrian Flavin, 17 Brett Wilkinson, 18 Dylan Rogers, 19 Dave Gannon, 20 Ray Ofisa, 21 Paul O'Donohoe, 22 Niall O'Connor, 23 Brian Tuohy.

Date: Friday September 16
Venue: Murrayfield, Edinburgh
Kick-off: 19:30 (18:30 GMT)
Referee: Alan Falzone