Preview: Edinburgh v Scarlets

Date published: February 26 2016

Scarlets welcome the return of openside flanker James Davies to their side as the race to the play-offs hots up with a trip to Edinburgh.

Davies is one of only two changes to the side that secured victory over Ulster last weekend with Maselino Paulino coming in on the blindside flank.

Scarlets' front-row, second-row and back-row all remain unchanged as the Scarlets head to Edinburgh looking for a third consecutive victory to further cement their place in the play-off positions.

Speaking ahead of the PRO12 clash Scarlets head coach Wayne Pivac said: "Edinburgh haven't been an easy opponent for us since I've been here and they'll be looking forward to getting an opportunity to put things right. Despite starting well against them last season we ended up in an arm wrestle and finished with a draw.

"They also brought our home record to an end last season so we certainly have a healthy respect for them. They have a good set-piece, they play to their strengths and it'll be a competition whatever side they put out.

"We have to be mindful we've been through a big game. This week has been all about how we get the boys ready mentally and physically for the same sort of performance as last week."

Meanwhile, Edinburgh head coach Alan Solomons has made two changes to his starting team.

With a number of players out injured and on international duty, wing Damien Hoyland, who recently signed a new two year deal at the club, is the only member of the Edinburgh starting side who didn’t feature in last week’s 27-13 away loss to Ospreys. 

The only other change is also in the back-three where 19-year-old Blair Kinghorn will make his third start for the club at full-back.

Joining Hoyland and Kinghorn in the back three is Tom Brown, who starts on the left wing.

In an otherwise unchanged backline, Sam Beard and Michael Allen continue at centre, while Sean Kennedy and Phil Burleigh remain as the half-back duo. 

Last week’s try-scorer, Allan Dell, packs down at loosehead prop, with John Andress taking up the tighthead berth, and Neil Cochrane captaining the team from hooker. 

Ben Toolis is released from the national team to don the number five shirt, and continues his well-established partnership with Anton Bresler in the second-row.

Jamie Ritchie and Hamish Watson start in the back-row, either side of Cornell Du Preez, who completes the pack at number eight.

Solomons said: “With international call-ups and injury this will yet again be a test of the strength in depth of our squad. Our players are looking forward to meeting the challenge this presents."

Form: Edinburgh Rugby have slipped to four straight defeats in all competitions, although all four games have been away from home. Edinburgh's only defeat at BT Murrayfield in any tournament this season was 14-16 to Munster in round 7 of the Guinness PRO12. Scarlets have won their last two Guinness PRO12 fixtures, against Edinburgh and Ulster but have not won successive away games in the PRO12 since October. Edinburgh's only victory in their last seven encounters with Scarlets was 26-15 at Parc y Scarlets in March 2015, whilst their only victory over Scarlets at BT Murrayfield since 2010 was 26-23 in March 2012.

The teams:

Edinburgh: 15 Blair Kinghorn, 14 Damien Hoyland, 13 Michael Allen, 12 Sam Beard, 11 Tom Brown, 10 Phil Burleigh, 9 Sean Kennedy, 8 Cornell Du Preez, 7 Hamish Watson, 6 Jamie Ritchie, 5 Ben Toolis, 4 Anton Bresler, 3 John Andress, 2 Neil Cochrane (c), 1 Allan Dell 
Replacements: 16 George Turner, 17 Grant Sheills, 18 Simon Berghan, 19 Alex Toolis, 20 Magnus Bradbury, 21 Nathan Fowles, 22 Chris Dean, 23 Dougie Fife

Scarlets: 15 Michael Collins, 14 Gareth Owen, 13 Regan King, 12 Hadleigh Parkes (c), 11 DTH van der Merwe, 10 Aled Thomas, 9 Aled Davies, 8 Morgan Allen, 7 James Davies, 6 Maselino Paulino, 5 David Bulbring, 4 George Earle, 3 Peter Edwards, 2 Kirby Myhill, 1 Phil John
Replacements: 16 Ryan Elias, 17 Dylan Evans, 18 Rhodri Jones, 19 Rory Pitman, 20 Will Boyde, 21 Rhodri Williams, 22 Dan Jones, 23 Steff Evans

Date: Sunday, February 28
Venue: Murrayfield
Kick-off: 14:05 GMT
Referee: Dudley Phillips (Ireland)
Assistant referees: Keith Allen (Scotland), Graeme Ormiston (Scotland)
Television match official: Neil Paterson (Scotland)