Preview: Edinburgh v Munster

Date published: May 2 2014

Edinburgh boss Alan Solomons has called for a performance befitting the outbound Greig Laidlaw on Saturday against Munster.

Edinburgh boss Alan Solomons has called for a performance befitting the outbound Greig Laidlaw on Saturday against Munster, in the club's last home game of the season at Meggetland.

Laidlaw will lead an unchanged backline at the Colinton club ground however injuries to the club's second and back-rows enforce a personnel change to the pack.

A head knock in last weekend's match against Glasgow means Izak van der Westhuizen joins second-rows Sean Cox (hamstring) and Ollie Atkins (knee), and back-rows Roddy Grant (ankle) and Hamish Watson (leg) on the sidelines.

As a result, David Denton starts his first match at second-row since earning age-grade international honours, with last weekend's try-scorer, Tomas Leonardi, taking the vacated back-row berth.

“Over the last two weeks we've had difficulties in the second-row, and now the back-row, with injuries,” said Solomons.

“This means David [Denton] moves into lock out of necessity and young Ben Toolis – a player of much promise but limited experience – joins the bench.

“We are fortunate that we have the necessary cover in the back-row, with Dimitri Basiliaia returning from international duty and injury, though we are obviously thin at lock.”

The club host beaten Heineken Cup semi-finalists Munster, whose defeat to Toulon in Marseille on Saturday means their focus is now fixed on securing one of the two home knockout slots.

“Munster are historically a very resilient team and I expect them to bounce back from that defeat immediately,” added Solomons.

“The have made it clear since that game that their attention is totally on the PRO12 and that they are determined to come here and secure a win.

“It's our last home game of the season, and it's Greig Laidlaw's last home match as captain before he leaves, so there is a lot to play for from our side in that respect.

“Munster are motivated by the fact that they want to secure the best possible playoff spot. We are motivated by the fact that it has been a very tough season and we would like to finish our home campaign on a good note by delivering a good performance, for Greig [Laidlaw] and for our supporters in this last home match.”

Meanwhile, Munster make a total of 11 changes to the side that started against Toulon as they return to action in the PRO12.

After Thursday's Ospreys defeat to Zebre, Munster now guaranteed a semi-final place in the PRO12 with Leinster and Glasgow. But the province will continue to battle for a top-two finish with the Edinburgh challenge up first this weekend.

A new look front row sees James Cronin and John Ryan pack down on either side of Duncan Casey. Having featured last weekend against Toulon, Cronin makes his first start for the province since Treviso in March.

The familiar duo of Paul O'Connell and Donncha O'Callaghan combine forces in the second-row while Tommy O'Donnell and Paddy Butler return to the starting line-up alongside CJ Stander in the back-row. Last time out in the league Butler impressed with a man of the match performance, securing the bonus point try at the Sportsground.

After an excellent rehab on a groin injury, JJ Hanrahan suffered no ill effects from the last 20 minutes of last weekend's encounter in Marseille and partners up with Conor Murray in the half-backs.

Denis Hurley and Johne Murphy, both of whom signed new contracts with Munster this week, form the centre partnership. While Simon Zebo switches to full-back this weekend with Andrew Conway and Gerhard Van Den Heever introduced on the wings.

The province take a strong bench to Scotland that includes five of last weekend's starting team, and Luke O'Dea is named in his first senior squad of the season after overcoming a string of injuries.

Form: Edinburgh's only win in their last six PRO12 contests was 23-19 against the Dragons at Rodney Parade on 3rd April, but they did pick up two bonus points in their defeat at Glasgow last weekend, the first time they have achieved this for almost a decade.

Munster will be looking for the result from Italy on Thursday to see what they have to do, if anything, to secure a Play-Off spot. The Munstermen have won just two of their last five PRO12 matches, and are going for a pair of PRO12 victories in Scotland for the first time since season 2010/11.

Edinburgh's only victory in their last eight encounters with Munster in all competitions was 29-23 at Murrayfield in the European Cup on 12th October.

The teams:

Edinburgh: 15 Jack Cuthbert, 14 Tom Brown, 13 Matt Scott, 12 Andries Strauss, 11 Tim Visser, 10 Carl Bezuidenhout, 9 Greig Laidlaw (c), 8 Cornell du Preez, 7 Tomas Leonardi, 6 Mike Coman, 5 Dave Denton, 4 Grant Gilchrist, 3 Willem Nel, 2 Ross Ford, 1 Al Dickinson
Replacements: 16 James Hilterbrand, 17 Wicus Blauuw, 18 Simon Berghan, 19 Ben Toolis, 20 Dimitri Basilaia, 21 Grayson Hart, 22 Piers Francis, 23 Sam Beard

Munster: 15 Simon Zebo, 14 Gerhard van den Heever, 13 Johne Murphy, 12 Denis Hurley, 11 Andrew Conway, 10 JJ Hanrahan, 9 Conor Murray, 8 Paddy Butler, 7 Tommy O'Donnell, 6 CJ Stander, 5 Paul O'Connell (c), 4 Donncha O'Callaghan, 3 John Ryan, 2 Duncan Casey, 1 James Cronin
Replacements: 16 Damien Varley, 17 Dave Kilcoyne, 18 Alan Cotter, 19 Dave Foley, 20 James Coughlan, 21 Duncan Williams, 22 Ian Keatley, 23 Luke O'Dea

Date: Saturday 3rd May
Venue: Meggetland
Kick-off: 1700 local and BST
Referee: Marius Mitrea (Ita)
Assistant referees: Peter Allan, Bob Nevins (both Sco)
TMO: Ian Ramage (Sco)