Preview: Edinburgh v Dragons

Date published: October 10 2014

Dragons captain Lee Byrne has returned to the Welsh region’s starting XV for Saturday’s clash with Edinburgh at Murrayfield.

Dragons captain Lee Byrne has returned to the Welsh region’s starting XV for Saturday’s clash with Edinburgh at Murrayfield.

The international fullback has returned to full fitness after suffering a back strain which ruled him out of Sunday’s Welsh derby defeat against the Scarlets.

Alongside Byrne, Lyn Jones has made seven changes to the team that faced the Scarlets.

The fullback is joined in the back three by Matthew Pewtner and Hallam Amos.

The centre pairing takes on the form of Tom Prydie and Ashley Smith while both half-backs, Jason Tovey and Jonathan Evans, get the nod and retain their places.

One change has been made to the front row alongside Boris Stankovich and Dan Way, as Elliot Dee replaces hooker T. Rhys Thomas who moves to the bench.

The second row also has one change as Andrew Coombs, who returns from a three week ban, replaces Ian Gough.

The back row has one change and one positional change made to it as Lewis Evans and Nic Cudd pull on the flanker jerseys and Andy Powell is named as number eight.

Dragons director of rugby Lyn Jones, has made three changes to the replacements bench as Hugh Gustasfon, Lloyd Fairbrother, James Thomas, Richie Rees and Angus O’Brien are joined by T. Rhys Thomas, Ian Gough, and Aled Brew.

Meanwhile, wing Dougie Fife returns to Edinburgh’s starting XV following a period on the sidelines with injury. Fife’s return is one of four changes to the team that began against Ulster last Friday.

Fife said: “It’s been very frustrating having to watch the last four games and training from the sidelines. Now I just can’t wait to get back out with the team and help them get back to winning ways.

“Like all Welsh sides the Dragons are a very physical team. We’re looking forward to the challenge of the physicality they’ll bring on Saturday.”

The clash also sees Tom Heathcote move from the bench to the fly-half berth and Alasdair Dickinson return at loosehead, with Hamish Watson back on the right flank.

Edinburgh head coach Alan Solomons said: “The Dragons are a well=balanced team with a good mixture of experience and youth. We are looking forward to meeting the challenge they will present.”

Form: Edinburgh have won just one of their last ten Guinness PRO12 matches: 14-13 against Munster at Thomond Park in the opening round of this campaign. The Scotsmen drew 20-all against Scarlets on their last match at BT Murrayfield, but have not been victorious at the venue in the PRO12 since Leinster were the visitors last December. Newport Gwent Dragons’ solo victory so far in the 2014/15 Guinness PRO12 campaign came at home to Benetton Treviso in Round 4. Dragons only away victory in the tournament since February 2013 came on their most recent visit to Scotland, beating Glasgow 23-8 at Scotstoun in round 8 last season. Edinburgh have won their last three contests with Dragons whilst the Welsh Region have been triumphant just once at BT Murrayfield since 2009 – in March 2012.

Edinburgh: 15 Greig Tonks, 14 Dougie Fife, 13 Sam Beard, 12 Andries Strauss, 11 Tim Visser, 10 Tom Heathcote, 9 Sean Kennedy, 8 Cornell du Preez, 7 Hamish Watson, 6 Mike Coman (c), 5 Grant Gilchrist, 4 Anton Bresler, 3 John Andress, 2 Ross Ford, 1 Alasdair Dickinson.
Replacements: 16 James Hiltebrand, 17 Allan Dell, 18 Willem Nel, 19 Ollie Atkins, 20 Tomas Leonardi, 21 Sam Hidalgo-Clyne, 22 Phil Burgleigh, 23 Jack Cuthbert.

Dragons: 15 Lee Byrne (c), 14 Matthew Pewtner, 13 Tom Prydie, 12 Ashley Smith, 11 Hallam Amos, 10 Jason Tovey, 9 Jonathan Evans, 8 Andy Powell, 7 Nic Cudd, 6 Lewis Evans, 5 Rynard Landman, 4 Andrew Coombs, 3 Dan Way, 2 Elliot Dee, 1 Boris Stankovich.
Replacements: 16 T. Rhys Thomas, 17 Hugh Gustafson, 18 Lloyd Fairbrother, 19 Ian Gough, 20 James Thomas, 21 Richie Rees, 22 Angus O’Brien, 23 Aled Brew.

Date: Saturday, October 11
Venue: Murrayfield
Kickoff: 14:40 local (13:40 GMT)
Referee: Dudley Phillips (Ireland)
Assistant Referees: David Changleng (Scotland), Bob Nevins (Scotland)
TMO: Iain Ramage (Scotland)