Preview: Ospreys v Edinburgh

Date published: February 18 2016

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Brendon Leonard will captain the Ospreys for Friday's visit of Edinburgh to the Liberty Stadium in the PRO12.

Dan Lydiate returns from Wales duty to start at blindside flanker, while Springbok centre JJ Engelbrecht starts in midfield.

Ospreys head coach, Steve Tandy, said: “It was a good night for us in Munster on Sunday, a team effort that everybody can be proud of. The average age of the side was just 23, and to see the maturity of the performance, especially under pressure, was impressive. We went with a plan, which they bought into and believed in, stuck to the task and got their reward against a good team at a ground where away teams don’t often leave with anything.

“There’s no let up though, with a quick turnaround into Friday night and another difficult game against a team just above us. We know that if we don’t back up the Munster result with a similar performance and outcome then all our efforts in Cork will be wasted.

“We’re going up against an experienced, big and physical team who have the second best defence in the league, so it’s not going to be easy. They should have won at the Scarlets last week and were desperately unlucky, so we realise the size of the challenge they’ll pose. The boys coming back from Wales will give us a welcome boost but the reality is that it’s a still a young group going into battle again who will need the full support of the crowd on Friday to really lift them and get behind them.

“There are eight games left and each of them is massive for us in terms of how the season shapes up. Nothing will be won or lost this week, but we know that if we want to climb the table then we have to take points off the teams above us in the table, just as we did last weekend."

Meanwhile, head coach Alan Solomons has named four changes to his starting side for Edinburgh’s second trip to Wales in as many weeks.

Two players in the backline have been promoted from the bench to start against seventh place Ospreys, with Sean Kennedy slotting in at scrum-half and Dougie Fife moving onto the right wing, in place of Nathan Fowles and Damien Hoyland, respectively.

There are two changes to the starting forward pack as Allan Dell moves into the loosehead prop berth for Rory Sutherland, who is with the Scotland national team, to join John Andress and Neil Cochrane in the front row.

The combination of Anton Bresler and Ben Toolis continues at lock. Jamie Ritchie moves into the blindside berth in place of Mike Coman, who is ruled out with an injured calf, and is joined by Cornell Du Preez and Hamish Watson –who both recently passed the half-century cap mark for Edinburgh – in the back row.  

Phil Burleigh partners scrum-half Kennedy to form the half-back duo, as Sam Beard and Michael Allen continue in midfield.

The newly re-signed Tom Brown starts on the left wing, with Fife donning the 14 shirt on the right flank, and Greig Tonks remaining at full-back. 

There are five additions to the bench with lock Grant Gilchrist set to return after a long spell out through injury, and scrum-half Sam Hidalgo-Clyne recalled from international duty to travel to Ospreys. 

Form: Ospreys only defeat in their last eight PRO12 encounters was 9-22 at home to Leinster on 8 January. The Welsh region are without a victory in their last two home games in the tournament and have never before gone winless in three successive home games. Ospreys have actually amassed as many league points on the road this season as they have at Liberty Stadium. Edinburgh Rugby have lost their last three fixtures in all competitions although in the most recent two of those, both in the PRO12, they have at least managed to garner a losing bonus point. Edinburgh have not been victorious outside of Scotland in the tournament since they visited Treviso in September. Ospreys only win in their last four fixtures with Edinburgh was 62-13 in Swansea in September 2014. Edinburgh's only two victories at Liberty Stadium came in successive matches in 2008 and 2009.

The teams:

Ospreys: 15 Dan Evans, 14 Jeff Hassler, 13 JJ Engelbrecht, 12 Owen Watkin, 11 Ben John, 10 Sam Davies, 9 Brendon Leonard (c), 8 Dan Baker, 7 Sam Underhill, 6 Dan Lydiate, 5 Rory Thornton, 4 James King, 3 Ma’afu Fia, 2 Sam Parry, 1 Nicky Smith
Replacements: 16 Scott Otten, 17 Gareth Thomas, 18 Aaron Jarvis, 19 Rynier Bernardo, 20 Olly Cracknell, 21 Tom Habberfield, 22 Josh Matavesi, 23 Eli Walker

Edinburgh: 15 Greig Tonks, 14 Dougie Fife, 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 Grant Gilchrist, 20 Magnus Bradbury, 21 Sam Hidalgo-Clyde, 22 Chris Dean, 23 Blair Kinghorn

Date: Friday, February 19
Venue: Liberty Stadium
Kick-off: 19:05 GMT
Referee: George Clancy (Ireland)
Assistant Referees: Craig Evans (Wales), Sean Brickell (Wales)
TMO: Tim Hayes (Wales)

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