Preview: Ospreys v Edinburgh

Date published: December 1 2016

Ospreys head coach Steve Tandy has named a strong starting line-up for Friday's clash with Edinburgh at the Liberty Stadium in Swansea.

The squad has been bolstered by the return of several Wales internationals who are back on club duty after the recent November Tests. 

In the forwards, Alun Wyn Jones will captain the side from the second row while Justin Tipuric, who was the official man of the match in Wales' win over the Springboks last weekend, starts on the openside flank.

Aomngst the backs, Sam Davies, who started on the bench against South Africa, is preferred to Dan Biggar at fly-half. Biggar wore the number 10 jersey against the Boks at the Millennium Stadium.

Tandy expects a tough assignment against their visitors from Scotland's capital city.

“This is a big game for us," he said.

"We’ve had a pretty decent start to the season and are sitting at the right end of the table but it’s the start of a busy period with some important games coming up. We want to keep the momentum going and to do that we’ve got to get a good performance in on Friday night.

“We are missing one or two boys but we’re able to bring back in some key players after a month away in Wales camp. Some have played a bit more than others, but they are all busting to pull the black shirt on again. There are boys like Kingy, Keelan, Sam, who are itching to get on the field because they’ve probably had a frustrating month, while we know what Alun Wyn, Tips, Dan and Sam bring to the table.

“Selection hasn’t been easy as we’ve done okay over the last month but we’ve gone with a mix that we think will get the job done on the night while having an eye on some of the challenges ahead of us, with a couple of European games and a derby against the Scarlets, the next PRO12 game.

“Edinburgh were probably a little unfortunate last Sunday against the Dragons so I’m sure they’ll want to make up for it on Friday night. We’ll have to be aware of that and deal with it.”

Meanwhile, Edinburgh acting head coach Duncan Hodge has made seven changes to his starting line-up.

Of the changes made, four are across the back division with the alterations in the pack all made in the front-five.

Scrum-half Sam Hidalgo-Clyne makes his second PRO12 start of the season and is joined by fly-half Duncan Weir, who returns to the starting line-up for the first time since fracturing his jaw against Munster in Round Four of the competition.

Junior Rasolea replaces Phil Burleigh at inside-centre, while Will Helu is set to make his first appearance of the season on the wing after recovering from a long-term hamstring injury.

In the pack prop Allan Dell – who debuted for Scotland in the recent autumn Test series – and lock Grant Gilchrist return from international duty to start, while Stuart McInally is promoted from the bench to take the number two jersey.

Hodge said: “We were disappointed with the loss to Dragons but we’re on the road to Wales again and are looking to bounce back with a big performance against a good Ospreys side.

“We’ve moved on from last week’s result, taken lessons from the match and worked hard this week in training to right our wrongs, with the players showing a real focus and positive attitude to make amends to their game, both personally and as a collective.

“Several changes have been made in key positions but it’s credit to the depth of our squad that we’re able to rotate and field a team with such experience.

“Ospreys are a team who will be high on confidence due to their current form but there is a lot of belief in our side and we’re looking forward to challenging them on their home patch.”

Blair Kinghorn and Damien Hoyland retain their starting spots to join Helu in the back-three, while try-scorer against Dragons, Chris Dean, partners the incoming Rasolea in midfield.

Murray McCallum remains in the tighthead prop berth to pack down alongside McInally and Dell in the front-row, as Ben Toolis completes the lock duo with captain Gilchrist.

The back-row is unchanged with Magnus Bradbury and Jamie Ritchie named on the flanks, and Nasi Manu at number eight.

Form: Ospreys' only defeat in the last four rounds of the PRO12 was 0-33 in Munster in Round 8. Ospreys have won their last four PRO12 games at Liberty Stadium since Ulster beat them there in Round 22 last season. ? Edinburgh have won just two of their last seven PRO12 fixtures, both at home, to Treviso and Ulster. The Scotsmen’s only victory outside of Scotland in the Championship since September 2015 was by a single point on a trip to the Dragons in March. The last eight encounters between the two sides have all been won by the home side on the day, whilst Edinburgh’s most recent success at Liberty Stadium was 32-30 in April 2009. 

The teams:

Ospreys: 15 Dan Evans, 14 Keelan Giles, 13 Ashley Beck, 12 Josh Matavesi, 11 Dafydd Howells, 10 Sam Davies, 9 Brendon Leonard, 8 Dan Baker, 7 Justin Tipuric, 6 James King, 5 Alun Wyn Jones (c), 4 Rory Thornton, 3 Ma’afu Fia, 2 Sam Parry, 1 Nicky Smith 
Replacements: 16 Scott Baldwin, 17 Paul James, 18 Dmitri Arhip, 19 Lloyd Ashley, 20 Sam Underhill, 21 Tom Habberfield, 22 Dan Biggar, 23 Kieron Fonotia

Edinburgh: 15 Blair Kinghorn, 14 Damien Hoyland, 13 Chris Dean, 12 Junior Rasolea, 11 Will Helu, 10 Duncan Weir, 9 Sam Hidalgo-Clyne, 8 Nasi Manu, 7 Jamie Ritchie, 6 Magnus Bradbury, 5 Grant Gilchrist (c), 4 Ben Toolis, 3 Murray McCallum, 2 Stuart McInally, 1 Allan Dell
Replacements: 16 Neil Cochrane, 17 Kyle Whyte, 18 Felipe Arregui, 19 Lewis Carmichael, 20 Viliame Mata, 21 Nathan Fowles, 22 Jason Tovey, 23 Glenn Bryce

Date: Friday, December 2
Venue: Liberty Stadium, Swansea
Kick-off: 19:35 GMT
Referee: Dudley Phillips (Ireland)
Assistant Referees: Sean Gallagher (Ireland), Sean Brickell (Wales)
TMO: Kevin Beggs (Ireland)