Preview: Edinburgh v Dragons

Date published: November 26 2015

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Edinburgh boss Alan Solomons has made seven changes – two positional – to his starting XV to face Dragons at Murrayfield on Friday.

The Scottish capital club return to league duties following two convincing wins in Europe against French opposition Grenoble (28-10) and Agen (27-6).

Halfbacks Sam Hidalgo-Clyne and Phil Burleigh – absent from last week's win over Agen – come back into the starting line-up.

With Burleigh in at fly-half, Greig Tonks shifts to full-back in place of Dougie Fife. Tom Brown retains his spot on the right wing, while Will Helu moves to the left; accommodating young centre Chris Dean, who is promoted from the bench to partner Matt Scott in midfield. 

Lock Alex Toolis comes in to replace the injured Anton Bresler and partners Fraser McKenzie in the boiler-room. In the back row, Mike Coman slots into the blindside berth to replace the injured Nasi Manu – and take on captaincy – joining try-scoring loose forwards Cornell Du Preez (number eight) and John Hardie.

The forwards are completed by an unchanged front-row, where Scotland trio Ross Ford, Alasdair Dickinson and WP Nel pack down in an ever-impressive trio.

"Following two good wins in Europe, we now need to channel our focus on a positive transition to PRO12 duties, starting against the Dragons tomorrow," said Solomons.

"We have trained well on the run up to this game, and now need to ensure that our efforts on the training paddock prove fruitful against a tough opposition.

"The Dragons always bring a great degree of physicality, and we know what is required of us. We're also back at Murrayfield, and the home crowd will prove a huge boost for our players.”

Another inclusion sees Mike Allen, who arrived from Ulster in pre-season, set to make his debut from the bench, having recovered from his shoulder injury sustained in pre-season.

Meanwhile, Newport Gwent Dragons and Wales wing Tom Prydie has returned to full fitness and is will play in this fixture.

The 23-year-old suffered a knee injury against Leinster in October and is back in action after a number of weeks of rehab and recovery.

Youngster Prydie joins fellow wing Ashton Hewitt and fullback Carl Meyer in the back three, with centres Adam Hughes and Adam Warren retaining their places. Fly-half Dorian Jones is joined by scrum-half Charlie Davies who replaces Sarel Pretorius.

The front row sees the return of Boris Stankovich who moves into the starting XV from the bench, he joins fellow prop Shaun Knight and hooker Elliot Dee. 

The second row sees Matthew Screech and skipper Rynard Landman get the nod, and the back row includes number eight Ed Jackson, who failed a late fitness test last weekend, as he joins flankers Nick Crosswell and Ollie Griffiths.

The replacements bench sees the inclusion of Thomas Rhys Thomas, Phil Price, Cory Hill, and Sarel Pretorius who join Lloyd Fairbrother, Nic Cudd, Jason Tovey and Ross Wardle.

Talking about his time recovering, Prydie commented: "It was frustrating for me that I couldn't play for the Dragons but these things happen in rugby.

"I've been injured and the wingers here have been playing well so it's just about getting back on the field and performing.

Looking towards tomorrows game against Edinburgh, Prydie continued: "It's similar to last year with Europe as a fresh page and we have performed well.

"The boys have been playing really well and it will be good for the squad to get back up to full strength soon. When the likes of Hallam (Amos) and Tyler Morgan come back we can really push on up the league."

Form: Edinburgh have suffered three straight PRO12  defeats dropping from third place to seventh in the process, however the Scotsmen have begun their European Challenge Cup campaign with a pair of victories over French opposition. Edinburgh’s only defeat at Murrayfield so far this season was against Munster in the last round. Newport Gwent Dragons have attained just two victories in the opening seven rounds of the PRO12, both at home to Italian opponents. The Welsh region have not been victorious on the road since a trip to Treviso in March whilst their only victory in Scotland since 2012 was against Glasgow Warriors at Scotstoun two years ago. The Men from Gwent ended a five game losing streak to Edinburgh in all tournaments with their 19-5 victory at Rodney Parade in Round 21 last season but have not won at Murrayfield since March 2012.

The teams:

Edinburgh: 15 Greig Tonks, 14 Tom Brown, 13 Chris Dean, 12 Matt Scott, 11 Will Helu, 10 Phil Burleigh, 9 Sam Hidalgo-Clyne, 8 Cornell Du Preez, 7 John Hardie, 6 Mike Coman (c), 5 Fraser McKenzie, 4 Alex Toolis, 3 WP Nel, 2 Ross Ford, 1 Alasdair Dickinson. 
Replacements: 16 Neil Cochrane, 17 Rory Sutherland, 18 John Andress, 19 Jamie Ritchie, 20 Hamish Watson, 21 Sean Kennedy, 22 Mike Allen, 23 Blair Kinghorn.

Dragons: 15 Carl Meyer, 14 Tom Prydie, 13 Adam Hughes, 12 Adam Warren, 11 Ashton Hewitt, 10 Dorian Jones, 9 Charlie Davies, 8 Ed Jackson, 7 Ollie Griffiths, 6 Nick Crosswell, 5 Rynard Landman (c), 4 Matthew Screech, 3 Shaun Knight, 2 Elliot Dee, 1 Boris Stankovich. 
Replacements: 16 Thomas Rhys Thomas, 17 Phil Price, 18 Lloyd Fairbrother, 19 Cory Hill, 20 Nic Cudd, 21 Sarel Pretorius, 22 Jason Tovey, 23 Ross Wardle. 

Date: Friday, November 27
Venue: Murrayfield
Kick-off: 19:35 GMT
Referee: Marius Mitrea (Italy)
Assistant Referees: Sam Grove-White (Scotland) and Cammy Rudkin (Scotland)
TMO: Jim Yuille (Scotland)

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