Preview: Edinburgh v Dragons

Date published: March 22 2012

Michael Bradley has made five changes to his Edinburgh side ahead of a series of key home games, which begins against the Dragons.

Edinburgh coach Michael Bradley has made five changes to his side ahead of a series of key home games, which begins against the Dragons.

The RaboDirect PRO12 clash is the first of three Murrayfield matches for the club who then face the Scarlets followed by Toulouse in the Heineken Cup.

With crucial points on offer and the opportunity to build momentum going into the biggest club rugby match in Scottish history, Bradley believes that the Murrayfield crowd can provide the catalyst for the side's success.

“It's been over a month since our last match at Murrayfield and we're looking forward to returning home to play in front of our home support,” he told Edinburgh's official website.

“Our fans have been tremendous this season, smashing Scottish club rugby cup and league attendance records in successive months and we need their backing more than ever at this crucial time, while we'll also seek to reward that incredible support.”

While the forward pack to play Dragons has a familiar look, with prop Jack Gilding starting in place of Ulises Gamboa, Bradley has made four changes to the back-line which sees an influx of some of the country's top young talent.

Harry Leonard starts the match at stand-off, fresh from a commanding, match-winning performance against Italy in the U20 Six Nations, while a new centre partnership takes to the field as inside centre Matt Scott returns from winning his first Scotland cap in the Six Nations.

Scott lines up alongside former age-grade and Currie colleagues Dougie Fife – who replaces the injured John Houston – and Tom Brown, who starts on the wing to accommodate Chris Paterson, who comes back to shepherd the young back-line from full-back.

“We must raise our efforts to achieve a much-needed victory,” added Bradley.

“At no point have we lost sight of the importance of this weekend's game as an opportunity to address our position in the RaboDirect PRO12.”

Meanwhile, the Dragons have made seven changes to the starting line-up for Friday's game.

Luke Charteris is named in the side as captain after a couple of appearances for Wales in their Grand Slam campaign. He takes his place alongside Rob Sidoli in the second-row with Jevon Groves slotting into the back-row in place of Lewis Evans after impressing in his last few starts.

There are also a couple of changes in the front-row. Sam Parry is in line to make his first RaboDirect PRO12 start at hooker instead of Steve Jones whilst Dan Way starts ahead of Nathan Buck at prop.

The Dragons have named a new pair of half-backs in Joe Bedford and Steffan Jones, who is given his chance in the fly-half slot after a couple of outings by Lewis Robling.

Will Harries moves from wing to full back to accommodate Tonderai Chavhanga's return to the starting line-up. Adam Hughes has recovered from the facial injury he sustained out in Aironi and replaces Andy Tuilagi who misses out with a dead leg.

Form: Edinburgh's only win in their last five clashes with Dragons was 27-15 at Murrayfield in this equivalent fixture last season. Edinburgh are without a win in their last seven RaboDirect PRO12 matches equalling their longest ever winless run in the tournament. Edinburgh's only home victory so far in 2012 came against London Irish in the Heineken Cup on 22 January. The Scotsmen have lost all five PRO12 games against the Welsh regions this season. The Dragons' only defeat in their last four PRO12 encounters came at home to Munster on 3 March. Dragons won their most recent away game, 10-9 in Aironi, but have not won back to back away games in the competition since September 2006.

Rugby Union betting odds

The teams:

Edinburgh: 15 Chris Paterson, 14 Tom Brown, 13 Dougie Fife, 12 Matt Scott, 11 Tim Visser, 10 Harry Leonard, 9 Chris Leck, 8 Netani Talei, 7 Stuart McInally, 6 Roddy Grant (capt), 5 Sean Cox, 4 Grant Gilchrist, 3 Jack Gilding, 2 Andrew Kelly, 1 Kyle Traynor.
Replacements: 16 Alun Walker, 17 Lewis Niven, 18 Ulises Gamboa, 19 Robert McAlpine, 20 Alan MacDonald, 21 Alex Black, 22 Gregor Hunter, 23 Sep Visser.

Dragons: 15 Will Harries, 14 Tonderai Chavhanga, 13 Adam Hughes, 12 Ashley Smith, 11 Aled Brew, 10 Steffan Jones, 9 Joe Bedford, 8 Tom Brown, 7 Darren Waters, 6 Jevon Groves, 5 Rob Sidoli, 4 Luke Charteris (capt), 3 Dan Way, 2 Sam Parry, 1 Nathan Williams.
Replacements: 16 Steve Jones, 17 Phil Price, 18 Nathan Buck, 19 Hywel Stoddart, 20 Lewis Evans, 21 Wayne Evans, 22 Lewis Robling, 23 Martyn Thomas.

Date: Friday, March 23
Kick-off: 19:30
Venue: Murrayfield
Referee: John Lacey (IRFU)
Assistant referees: Andrew McMenemy, Iain Bruce (both SRU)
Citing commissioner: Ian Goodall (SRU)