Preview: Edinburgh v Timisoara Saracens

Date published: January 19 2017

Edinburgh coach Duncan Hodge has made six changes to his starting side for their decisive Challenge Cup pool match against Timisoara Saracens. 

Hodge’s side go into the game sitting top of Pool 5 and in the knowledge that a bonus-point victory over the Romanian outfit will guarantee a home quarter-final.

Of the six changes made to the line-up, two amendments are in the back division where Michael Allen is included at outside centre and Nathan Fowles is set to start at scrum-half.

In the pack, Neil Cochrane comes in to start at hooker and will captain the side, while prop Simon Berghan – who this week was named in Vern Cotter’s squad for the Six Nations for the first time – replaces WP Nel, who is unavailable through injury (neck).

Grant Gilchrist returns to start at lock, while Jamie Ritchie is named on the openside flank.

"We need no extra motivation for this match. We’re in front of our supporters at a new home ground and have the chance to secure a home European quarter-final," said Hodge.

"As a group we’re hugely excited about playing at Myreside and will look to put down a marker on our first outing.

"It’s a huge day for the club and its supporters and we hope it is a great occasion.

"The players are determined to play their part by giving a huge performance and we look forward to hearing a loud crowd creating a really intimidating atmosphere for the visiting team."

He added: "We were delighted with the away victory against Harlequins last week but how we build from that is absolutely key.

"We’ve talked a lot about consistency and being relentless. To record three consecutive victories would be a real boost to this team going forward in this competition and in the PRO12.

"Timisoara were a physical and tough side when we played them out in Romania and we can expect more of the same on their visit to Myreside."

Blair Kinghorn, Damien Hoyland and Tom Brown remain as the back-three, with Chris Dean moving to inside centre to accommodate for the incoming Allen.

Duncan Weir retains the number 10 jersey and as part of the half-back duo with Fowles.

Last week’s try-scorer against Harlequins, Allan Dell, continues at loosehead prop and will pack down alongside Cochrane and Berghan in the front-row.

Ben Toolis retains his starting spot and partners Grant Gilchrist in the second-row.

Ritchie is joined in the back-row by Magnus Bradbury, who will start on the blindside flank, and number eight Cornell Du Preez. 

Meanwhile the Timisoara Saracens remain completely unchanged as they head into the clash with the Scottish side.

The last time the Romanians played Edinburgh they were given a thorough hiding to the tune of 59-17 and the Saracens will want to rectify that score when they travel to Myreside.

After five games in the tournament the visitors have not recorded a single point and will need a potent performance to turn their poor form around.

Form: Edinburgh are coming off a decent run of form in the Challenge Cup, in their last three games they have picked up some important wins. They beat Stade Français 28-23, before losing to the Parisians 26-20 a week later. They then picked up a great hard-fought 23-18 victory over Harlequins away. The Timisoara Saracens aren't having the same run of luck after suffering three straight big losses to Harlequins twice and Stade Français.

The teams:

Edinburgh: 15 Blair Kinghorn, 14 Damien Hoyland, 13 Michael Allen, 12 Chris Dean, 11 Tom Brown, 10 Duncan Weir, 9 Nathan Fowles, 8 Cornell Du Preez, 7 Jamie Ritchie, 6 Magnus Bradbury, 5 Grant Gilchrist, 4 Ben Toolis, 3 Simon Berghan, 2 Neil Cochrane, 1 Allan Dell
Replacements: 16 Stuart McInally, 17 Jack Cosgrove, 18 Murray McCallum, 19 Lewis Carmichael, 20 Viliame Mata, 21 Sam Hidalgo-Clyne, 22 Jason Tovey, 23 Rory Scholes

Timisoara Saracens: 15 Catalin Fercu, 14 Madalin Lemnaru, 13 Brian Sefanaia, 12 Jack Umaga, 11 Stephen Shennan, 10 Jody Rose, 9 Valentin Calafeteanu, 8 Vasile Rus, 7 Dorin Lazar, 6 Daniel Gabriel Ianus, 5 Marian Drenceanu, 4 Valentin Popirlan, 3 Horatiu Pungea, 2 Andrei Radoi, 1 Edmund Aholelei
Replacements: 16 Eugen Capatana, 17 Sione Halalilo, 18 Samuel Maris , 19 Ionut Muresan, 20 Marian Gorcioaia, 21 Florin Popa, 22 Gabriel Conache, 23 Tevita Manumua

Date: Friday, January 20
Venue: Myreside
Kick-off: 19:35 GMT
Referee: Adam Jones (Wales)
Assistant Referees: Wayne Davies (Wales), Kelvin Shorte (Wales)