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Preview: Edinburgh v Ospreys

27th February 2014 10:23

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SKY_MOBILE Harry Leonard Edinburgh

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Fly-half Harry Leonard returns to Edinburgh's starting lineup as one of four changes for Friday's PRO12 clash with the Ospreys..

The 21 year-old, and centre Sam Beard, have been promoted from the bench and replace the injured Tom Brown (thigh) and Nick De Luca (head knock), with Carl Bezuidenhout and Jack Cuthbert moving to full-back and wing to accommodate Leonard's inclusion.

The changes are completed by returning Scotland internationalists Ross Ford (hooker) and Geoff Cross (prop) who start in place of James Hilterbrand and Willem Nel.

They'll be joined on the bench by scrum-half Sean Kennedy, who has returned from his loan spell at London Irish to replace the injured Sam Hidalgo-Clyne (shoulder), while Ben Atiga and Joaquin Dominguez take the places vacated by Leonard and Beard.

"We've been able to pick a pretty strong pack and we know that the Ospreys too have a powerful set of forwards, so we're looking forward to meeting that challenge," said head coach Alan Solomons.

"In addition to Greig [Laidlaw] who's with the national team, we have three very good Scottish scrum-halves in Grayson [Hart], Sean [Kennedy] and Sammy [Hidalgo-Clyne].

"We took advantage of the opportunity to loan Sean out to complete his recovery from a knee injury and get some game time. He's returned looking nice and sharp so it's great to have him back in the fray.

"This is an important game for us because these players have had a couple of games together as a group. We are now looking for a good performance on this third time out.

"It's important for the club, particularly as we're playing at home, to deliver a good performance that will give us the opportunity to get the result."

Form: Edinburgh Rugby have lost their last three matches in the PRO12 and have dropped two places in the table as a consequence.

This match is the Scotsmen's first at home since they beat Perpignan in the European Cup on 11th January, but this game will be played at Boroughmuir's Meggetland venue which thus becomes the 38th different venue to stage a PRO12 encounter.

Ospreys have slipped to defeat in two of their last three PRO12 matches, but have also lost fewer games away from home this season than they have at home.

The Welsh Region's only victory in their last seven visits to Scotland was 15-14 over Edinburgh at Murrayfield in February 2012.

Edinburgh have won only one of their last five fixtures with the Ospreys: 23-13 at Murrayfield in November 2012.

Meanwhile, Ospreys boss Steve Tandy claims his side were left frustrated after last week's defeat to Munster.

"The general mood after Munster was of frustration and disappointment," admitted Tandy.

"When you are playing a good team like Munster you can't afford to turn the ball over like we did and not expect to get punished. Unforced errors meant that we were up against it despite at times putting some good rugby together, and we didn't get the reward that our approach to the game possibly deserved.

"As has been the case over the last few weeks, this young group showed some of the positive elements that we are trying to bring to our games, and in that respect there was plenty to be pleased about despite the result.

"It's a very quick turnaround for us, going Friday to Sunday, which obviously limits how much we can do in terms of working on where we let ourselves down against Munster. However, the boys have shown the right attitude and as coaches we've been trying to drive home the need for accuracy, attention to detail, and patience and reinforcing that we have to stay composed and not allow ourselves to get carried away.

"The play-offs are still very much on for us but we don't have any margin for error now, we have to get it right on and off the pitch for each of our remaining fixtures. Our record in this league is something we are very proud of, and whatever the future holds for us we want to be in the mix come May."

The teams:

Edinburgh: 15 Carl Bezuidenhout, 14 Dougie Fife, 13 Sam Beard, 12 Andries Strauss, 11 Jack Cuthbert, 10 Harry Leonard, 9 Grayson Hart, 8 Cornell du Preez, 7 Roddy Grant, 6 Mike Coman (c), 5 Izak van der Westhuizen, 4 Grant Gilchrist, 3 Geoff Cross, 2 Ross Ford, 1 Wicus Blaauw
Replacements: 16 James Hilterbrand, 17 Alex Allan, 18 WP Nel, 19 Ollie Atkins, 20 Tomas Leonardi, 21 Sean Kennedy, 22 Ben Atiga, 23 Joaquin Dominguez

Ospreys: 15 Richard Fussell, 14 Jeff Hassler, 13 Jonathan Spratt (C), 12 Ashley Beck, 11 Hanno Dirksen, 10 Dan Biggar, 9 Tito Tebaldi, 8 Joe Bearman, 7 Justin Tipuric, 6 Sam Lewis, 5 James King, 4 Tyler Ardron, 3 Dan Suter, 2 Scott Baldwin, 1 Duncan Jones
Replacements: 16 Matthew Dwyer, 17 Marc Thomas, 18 Joe Rees, 19 Dan Baker, 20 Ryan Jones, 21 Tom Habberfield, 22 Sam Davies, 23 Aisea Natoga

Date: Friday 28th February
Venue: Meggetland
Kick-off: 1935 (local & GMT)
Referee: Peter Fitzgibbon (Ire)
Assistant referees: James Matthew, Stephen Ward (Sco)
TMO: Iain Ramage (Sco)

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