Preview: Edinburgh v Ulster

Date published: February 19 2015

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Edinburgh have made three changes to the starting XV that won their last league game as they look to overcome Ulster at Murrayfield on Friday.

Greig Tonks retains his place at full-back with Tom Brown and Damien Hoyland remaining on the right and left wings respectively. The centre pairing of Chris Dean  and Andries Strauss is maintained while scrum-half Nathan Fowles moves up from the bench to form the half-back partnership with fly-half Phil Burleigh.

In the pack, the front-row of Rory Sutherland, Neil Cochrane and John Andress at loosehead, hooker and tighthead respectively is retained, with locks Anton Bresler and Fraser McKenzie again donning the numbers 4 and 5 jerseys.

Captain Mike Coman stays on the blindside while Hamish Watson moves up from the bench to openside and Nasi Manu returns from injury at number eight.

Despite the pre-season win, head coach Alan Solomons is under no illusions that meeting Ulster in the league will prove a very different challenge.

He said: "We showed, in August, that if we deliver a good performance we can win the game and I think that's important for us from a confidence perspective.

"Obviously a competitive match is a different kettle of fish and we'll have to be at the top of our game in order to get the result.

"We know we've got a massive game tomorrow night against Ulster – they've  been one of the top teams in Europe over the last four or five years and we're really going to have to deliver a performance here."

Meanwhile, Paul Marshall will make his 150th appearance for Ulster when he lines up against Edinburgh.

The 30-year-old scrum-half, who made his senior debut against the Dragons in September 2006, will again be partnered at half-back by the versatile Peter Nelson.

Luke Marshall has been ruled out with a thumb injury, so Sammy Arnold will start the game at outside centre in what will be just his second competitive start for Ulster. Stuart McCloskey, who has impressed in the opening games of the season, will continue in the inside centre berth.

Andrew Trimble and Louis Ludik will continue in the back three along with Craig Gilroy, who signed a contract extension this week.

Up front, the experienced trio of Callum Black, Franco van der Merwe and Nick Williams return to bolster the Ulster pack. Captain, Rob Herring, Wiehahn Herbst and Dan Tuohy retain their positions in the tight five.

With Williams packing down at number eight, Roger Wilson switches to blindside flanker, while Sean Reidy will continue in the seven jersey. Robbie Diack was unavailable for selection after picking up a thigh injury playing for Ulster A last weekend.

Form: Edinburgh are one of three sides to have begun the new PRO12 campaign with three victories. The Scotsmen have won three of their last four fixtures at BT Murrayfield in all tournaments, but have been defeated in their last five contests at the venue against Irish provinces. Ulster's last five fixtures have all been won by the home side on the day, whilst the Ulstermen's only victory on the road since February came on a trip to Connacht in April. Edinburgh have won just one of their last nine encounters with Ulster in all tournaments: 14-8 at Murrayfield in the PRO12 in March 2013.

The teams:

Edinburgh: 15 Greig Tonks, 14 Tom Brown, 13 Chris Dean, 12 Andries Strauss, 11 Damien Hoyland, 10 Phil Burleigh, 9 Nathan Fowles, 8 Nasi Manu, 7 Hamish Watson, 6 Mike Coman (c), 5 Fraser McKenzie, 4 Anton Bresler, 3 John Andress 2 Neil Cochrane, 1 Rory Sutherland.
Replacements: 16 George Turner, 17 Allan Dell, 18 Simon Berghan, 19 Alex Toolis, 20 Cornell du Preez, 21 Sean Kennedy, 22 Will Helu, 23 Jack Cuthbert.

Ulster: 15 Louis Ludik, 14 Craig Gilroy, 13 Sammy Arnold, 12 Stuart McCloskey, 11 Andrew Trimble, 10 Peter Nelson, 9 Paul Marshall, 8 Nick Williams, 7 Sean Reidy, 6 Roger Wilson, 5 Franco van der Merwe, 4 Dan Tuohy, 3 Wiehahn Herbst, 2 Rob Herring (c), 1 Callum Black.
Replacements: 16 John Andrew, 17 Andrew Warwick, 18 Bronson Ross, 19 Lewis Stevenson, 20 Willie Faloon, 21 David Shanahan, 22 Ian Humphreys, 23 Rory Scholes.

Date: Friday, October 16
Venue: Murrayfield
Kick-off: 19:45 BST
Referee: Dudley Phillips (Ireland)
Assistant referees: Sam Grove-White (Scotland), Mike Adamson (Scotland)
TMO: Iain Ramage (Scotland)

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