Preview: Edinburgh v Connacht

Date published: March 3 2016

Edinburgh Head Coach Alan Solomons has named four changes to his starting side to take on Connacht tomorrow at Murrayfield.

Matt Scott, Sam Hidalgo-Clyne and Rory Sutherland return from international duty to be named in Solomons’ starting XV, while centre Chris Dean gains promotion from the bench to start in the centre.

Scott and Dean form the midfield partnership, with the back-three combination of Tom Brown, Damien Hoyland and Blair Kinghorn retaining their respective spots in the starting side. 

Phil Burleigh, who scored the opening try in last week’s 24-23 defeat of Scarlets, continues at stand-off and partners the incoming Hidalgo-Clyne at scrum-half.   

In the pack, Sutherland replaces the recently resigned Allan Dell in the front-row alongside hooker Neil Cochrane and tighthead prop John Andress, while Anton Bresler and try-scorer against Scarlets, Ben Toolis, continue at lock.

Jamie Ritchie and Hamish Watson start at blindside and openside flanker, with Cornell Du Preez wearing the number eight shirt.

Head Coach Alan Solomons said: “Connacht are at the top of the PRO12 table and we are looking forward to the challenge that taking on the league leaders presents.”

Meanwhile, Connacht features four changes from the starting team that was named for the last round against Ospreys.

Ireland international Nathan White, who played in all three Six Nations games last month, has been released to play in Friday’s PRO12 clash. 

The tighthead prop joins Denis Buckley and Tom McCartney in the front row.

The return of Quinn Roux provides a timely boost as the lock is named to play his first game of 2016, having recovered from the ankle injury sustained in early December.

John Muldoon, who missed his only PRO12 game of the season last weekend, has returned to captain the side wearing the number eight shirt.

Scrum-half Kieran Marmion is named to start in a backline that also sees the reintroduction of Danie Poolman to the right wing.

Second row Danny Qualter is included among the replacements again having impressed in just his second PRO12 appearance at the Sportsground last weekend. Eoin McKeon and Fionn Carr are also named in the squad.

Commenting on the team announcement and the upcoming game, head coach Pat Lam said:

“It’s good to have some of our international boys back again this week, including Whitey (Nathan White) who has performed really well for Ireland. That extra experience will be important against a side like Edinburgh who we’ve always had close encounters with.

"There is consistency in the way Edinburgh play – they are very physical, very direct, and they are a settled team with a lot of experienced players. Murrayfield is always tough but they’ve really made it into a fortress now having only lost there once this season. 

“But we’re traveling with confidence knowing that if we continue to focus on what we’ve been doing and the game plan we have in place, we can take another step closer to Champions Cup qualification.”

Form: Edinburgh's only home defeat in any tournament this season was 14-16 to Munster in the  PRO12 on November 7. Connacht have won their last five matches in all tournaments since their 18-21 defeat in Brive on January 16. The Irishmen have won their last two away games in the PRO12 and have not won three on the road in the competition since season 2002/03. Edinburgh's only victory in their last four fixtures with Connacht was 16-13 in Galway in January 2015 whilst Connacht have been victorious on two of their last three visits to Murrayfield.

The teams:

Edinburgh: 15 Blair Kinghorn, 14 Damien Hoyland, 13 Chris Dean, 12 Matt Scott, 11 Tom Brown, 10 Phil Burleigh, 9 Sam Hidalgo-Clyne, 8 Cornell Du Preez, 7 Hamish Watson, 6 Jamie Ritchie, 5 Ben Toolis, 4 Anton Bresler, 3 John Andress, 2 Neil Cochrane, 1 Rory Sutherland
Replacements: 16 George Turner, 17 Allan Dell, 18 Simon Berghan, 19 Alex Toolis, 20 Magnus Bradbury, 21 Sean Kennedy, 22 Sam Beard, 23 Dougie Fife

Connacht:15  Tiernan O’Halloran, 14  Danie Poolman, 13  Bundee Aki, 12 Craig Ronaldson, 11 Matt Healy, 10 AJ MacGinty, 9 Kieran Marmion, 8 John Muldoon (c), 7 Jake Heenan, 6 Sean O’Brien, 5 Aly Muldowney, 4 Quinn Roux, 3 Nathan White, 2 Tom McCartney, 1 Denis Buckley
Replacements: 16 Dave Heffernan, 17 Finlay Bealham, 18 Rodney Ah You, 19 Danny Qualter, 20 Eoin McKeon, 21 Caolin Blade, 22 Peter Robb, 23 Fionn Carr

Date: Friday, March 5
Venue: Murrayfield, Edinburgh
Kick-off: 19.35pm GMT
Referee: Ben Whitehouse ( WRU)
Assistant Referees: Sam Grove-White, Cammy Rudkin (both SRU)
TMO: Jim Yuille (SRU)