Preview: Edinburgh v Scarlets

Date published: October 26 2012

Edinburgh tackle second-placed Scarlets at Murrayfield in a PRO12 battle between two sides desperate to get back to winning ways.

Edinburgh tackle second-placed Scarlets at Murrayfield Stadium in a PRO12 battle between two sides desperate to get back to winning ways.

The teams go into the match still reeling from double defeats in the Heineken Cup and will undoubtedly see domestic success as the perfect tonic for their European woes.

Seven places separate the sides in the PRO12 but a win has the potential to propel the hosts up the table and reignite their competitive campaign.

“Our intention is simply to get back on the winning trail, and get back on it as soon as possible,” said Edinburgh coach Michael Bradley.

“The PRO12 is really tight just now. All but the top and bottom teams are on two, three or four wins, so success can shoot you up the table very quickly. But we need to strike now.

“We know we have a lot of talent in our side and we know we're a good rugby team, but we haven't been able show it, so the key this week has been to focus on ourselves, and what we can control.”

One element that is outwith the club's control is the availability of five players from Sunday's loss to Munster.

Ben Atiga (hamstring), Dimitri Basilaia (knee), Netani Talei (knee), Geoff Cross (head knock) and Gregor Hunter (head knock) were all injured in the match, while captain Greig Laidlaw has yet to recover from the shoulder injury he picked up against Saracens.

The club's losses are tempered by the return of top try-scorer Tim Visser in a back line orchestrated by incoming half-backs Harry Leonard and Chris Leck, who replace the injured Hunter and scrum-half Richie Rees, who starts on the bench.

Matt Scott comes in for what would normally be a straight swap for Atiga, however Bradley has brought the experience of Nick De Luca closer to the coalface at inside-centre, with midfield partner Scott starting at 13.

In the forwards, Willem Nel replaces the injured Cross at tighthead prop, Andy Titterrell will start at hooker, with Ross Ford available from the bench, and open-side flanker Ross Rennie comes in alongside David Denton and Stuart McInally.

Meanwhile, the Scarlets will be keen to put the disappointment of their last two weekends in the Heineken Cup firmly behind them when they travel to Edinburgh intent on backing up their strong start to their Celtic campaign.

A good result away from home in Scotland followed by Zebre at Parc y Scarlets next weekend would keep the Scarlets in the race for the top four play-off spots – as well as being a positive send-off to their 12 Scarlets internationals who join Wales at the weekend.

And the West Wales side will be looking to some fresh faces in their starting line-up to take their opportunities well, as an intense and brutally physical few weeks on the field has taken its toll on the Scarlets' injury list.

A total of 14 players from the Scarlets squad are unavailable for selection for Edinburgh. The region is also still awaiting the arrival of their South African prop Jacobie Adriaanse, who is expected to arrive at Parc y Scarlets on November 1 having completed his Currie Cup campaign with the Lions.

Centres Jonathan Davies and Gareth Maule are both unavailable, so Nick Reynolds comes into the centre alongside Wales international Scott Williams.

Argentinian international Tomás Vallejos gets his first start in a Scarlets jersey and Aled Thomas is handed the pivotal role at outside half with Rhys Priestland on the bench. New signing from the Ospreys Gareth Owen, who has returned from injury, gets his first opportunity for the Scarlets on the bench.

Form: Edinburgh have now lost five successive matches in all competitions, whilst their only win at Murrayfield this season came against Zebre on 14 September. The Welshmen have already won in Scotland this season: 18-13 at Glasgow on 7 September. Each team won its respective home game when the two sides met last season, whilst Scarlets' only win at Murrayfield in nine visits so far came on 8 January 2011.

The teams:

Edinburgh: 15 Greig Tonks, 14 Lee Jones, 13 Matt Scott, 12 Nick De Luca, 11 Tim Visser, 10 Harry Leonard, 9 Chris Leck, 8 Stuart McInally, 7 Ross Rennie, 6 David Denton, 5 Sean Cox (c), 4 Grant Gilchrist, 3 Willem Nel, 2 Andy Titterrell, 1 John Yapp.
Replacements: 16 Ross Ford, 17 Robin Hislop, 18 Lewis Niven, 19 Robert McAlpine, 20 Roddy Grant, 21 Richie Rees, 22 John Houston, 23 Tom Brown.

Scarlets: 15 Liam Williams, 14 George North, 13 Nick Reynolds, 12 Scott Williams, 11 Morgan Stoddart, 10 Aled Thomas, 9 Gareth Davies, 8 Rob McCusker (c), 7 Johnathan Edwards, 6 Aaron Shingler, 5 Tomas Vallejos, 4 Sione Timani, 3 Samson Lee, 2 Matthew Rees, 1 Phil John.
Replacements: 16 Ken Owens, 17 Shaun Hopkins, 18 Deacon Manu, 19 Richard Kelly, 20 Kieran Murphy, 21 Aled Davies, 22 Rhys Priestland, 23 Gareth Owen.

Date: Friday, 26 October
Venue: Murrayfield
Kick-off: 19:35
Referee: Marius Mitrea (Italy)
Assistant referees: Peter Allan (Scotland), Bob Nevins (Scotland)
Television match official: Iain Ramage (Scotland)