Planet Rugby

Preview: Edinburgh v Cardiff Blues

01st September 2011 11:10

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Edinburgh and Cardiff: Clash at Murrayfield

Edinburgh coach Michael Bradley has made three changes to his side for Friday's opening RaboDirect PRO12 match against Cardiff at Murrayfield.

The match is Bradley's first competitive encounter at the capital club since he took the helm and, having come through back-to-back pre-season victories, he admitted that excitement is building towards the first home game.

"Home advantage is massive in all sports and rugby is no different. The concept of the stadium within the stadium was excellent last Friday night," said Bradley.

"We've had a good week preparation-wise. The pre-season results went well for us in terms of competitive games, tough rugby matches and testing our systems. The results have given us confidence that if we play well we should get a positive result but make no mistake, tomorrow night will be a different ask.

"Cardiff will be an extremely competitive side and would expect to be one of the top four playoff teams. That's what we're striving for so already we have an important match on our hands tomorrow night."

Tim Visser (wing) and Matt Scott (centre) return in place of the injured Tom Brown (dead leg) and John Houston who drops to the bench.

Their reintroduction means that Lee Jones switches wings to accommodate the Dutchman, Jim Thompson moves to full-back and Simon Webster comes in-field one place to take Thompson's vacated outside-centre position.

Up front the only change sees promising prop Lewis Niven earn the starting berth at tight-head with try-scorer Steven Lawrie winning the first battle with Andrew Kelly to start at hooker.

Young Grant Gilchrist will once again partner Steven Turnbull in the second-row, with the trusted back-row trio of Sean Cox, Roddy Grant and David Denton also retaining the right to start the match.

Meanwhile, Cardiff Blues travel to Edinburgh missing eight players to the World Cup. Gethin Jenkins, Bradley Davies, Sam Warburton, Lloyd Williams, Jamie Roberts and Leigh Halfpenny have all been selected in the Wales squad while prop forward Fau Filise is with Tonga and Dan Parks with Scotland.

"It's going to work in two ways, it's going to affect team performance because some of our better players will be at the World Cup, but on the other hand it gives us the opportunity to look at our younger players and perhaps some other players that have been vying to get that first team spot," said Cardiff Blues forwards coach Justin Burnell.

"We have lost eight players, six Welsh players, one Scottish and one Tongan. I think when I've looked at some of the squads there has been an average of 8 to 10 players missing across the board from those bigger teams.

"I imagine it's going to be about strength in depth of the teams and who has the best development programme that come to the fore," he added.

Form: The two sides met on four occasions in 2010/11 with the Welshmen victorious in each instance, whilst the Blues have an impressive won five, lost three record at Murrayfield in all competitions. This is the third straight year that Edinburgh and Cardiff Blues have clashed in round one. Edinburgh will be keen to start their campaign on home soil, having won their final three games at Murrayfield last season. The Scotsmen have won their last two matches against Welsh opposition, however Edinburgh have won just once on the opening weekend since 2005. Cardiff Blues, who play their first ever match without Dai Young at the helm, finished last season with successive defeats, both away from home, to fellow Welsh Regions - Dragons and Scarlets. The Blues have won their last seven encounters with Scottish opponents in all competitions.

Rugby Union betting odds

The teams:

Edinburgh: 15 Jim Thompson, 14 Lee Jones, 13 Simon Webster, 12 Matt Scott, 11 Tim Visser, 10 Phil Godman, 9 Greig Laidlaw (c), 8 David Denton, 7 Roddy Grant, 6 Sean Cox, 5 Steven Turnbull, 4 Grant Gilchrist, 3 Lewis Niven, 2 Steven Lawrie, 1 Kyle Traynor.
Replacements: Andrew Kelly, 17 Robin Hislop, 18 Jack Gilding, 19 Esteban Lozada, 20 Hamish Watson, 21 Chris Leck, 22 Gregor Hunter, 23 John Houston.

Cardiff Blues: 15 Chris Czekaj, 14 Richard Mustoe, 13 Casey Laulala, 12 Gavin Evans, 11 Tom James, 10 Ceri Sweeney, 9 Richie Rees, 8 Andries Pertorius, 7 Martyn Williams, 6 Michael Paterson, 5 Deiniol Jones, 4 James Down, 3 Scott Andrews, 2 T Rhys Thomas ( c ) 1 Sam Hobbs.
Replacements: 16 Rhys Williams, 17 Nathan Trevett, 18 Ryan Harford, 19 Paul Tito, 20 Maama Molitika, 21 Lewis Jones, 22 Gareth Davies, 23 Dafydd Hewitt.

Date: Friday, September 2
Venue: Murrayfield, Edinburgh
Kick-off: 19:05 (18:05 GMT)
Referee: Leo Colgan

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