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Preview: Edinburgh v Gloucester

06th December 2013 08:37

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Returning: Ross Ford

Edinburgh head coach Alan Solomons has named nine Scotland internationals in his starting lineup to take on Gloucester on Sunday.

The Murrayfield pool clash marks Edinburgh's 100th Heineken Cup fixture.

All four teams in the group - which is completed by two-time champions Munster and Perpignan - go into the weekend with one win from the opening two rounds, with Edinburgh and Gloucester level on four points.

The hosts can take confidence from their consistently improving home from, winning four consecutive matches at Murrayfield, that started with their round one win over Munster in October.

"Winning engenders confidence, so we can obviously take something from these games," said Solomons.

"But we know this will be a very tough match. We are under no illusions about that.

"Gloucester are a good side. They have a very good back line with big, pacy, powerful individuals that present a number of defensive challenges, while you can never underestimate a Gloucester forward pack. They are a team that historically have been built on their forwards."

"At this stage the group is very tight, so this is a critical round. Clearly you have to try and win your home games, which is always important, but particularly in the Heineken Cup."

Solomons has made two changes to the side that recorded a four-try win over Connacht last weekend, with Scotland internationals Ross Ford and Grant Gilchrist returning from calf and shoulder injuries respectively.

Consequently, Aleki Lutui and Ollie Atkins move to the bench where they are joined by scrum-half, Grayson Hart, who has been rewarded for his impressive form for Gala, and Joaquin Dominguez, who replaces the ineligible Sam Beard.

Meanwhile, in the absence of injured club captain Tom Savage, centre Billy Twelvetrees will captain Gloucester.

Savage is ruled out having picked up a knock in last Friday's game against the Leicester Tigers, so vice captain Twelvetrees will wear the skipper's armband at Murrayfield.

It's a strong line up which features all five of the players who trained with England ahead of the recent November Tests, as well as the return of Sione Kalamafoni, who has been on international duty with Tonga.

"We worked very hard last season to finish in the top six and qualify for the Heineken Cup because it's such a fantastic tournament," said Director of Rugby Nigel Davies.

"The guys will be energised going into this double header with Edinburgh and it's a huge opportunity for us. We're still very much in the fight in Europe, and these back to backs will very much dictate the fate of the group.

"If we can go away and get a result, then we'll be coming home next weekend with a lot of confidence. But we can't really look any further ahead than this fixture.

"Edinburgh are a good team. They'll be a little bit disappointed with their own form, but they've got real quality in their squad, virtually half the Scotland team. They've done well in Europe before and are a very capable side."

The teams:

Edinburgh: 15 Greig Tonks, 14 Dougie Fife, 13 Nick De Luca, 12 Ben Atiga, 11 Jack Cuthbert, 10 Harry Leonard, 9 Greig Laidlaw (c), 8 Dave Denton, 7 Ross Rennie, 6 Cornell du Preez, 5 Izak van der Westhuizen, 4 Grant Gilchrist, 3 WP Nel, 2 Ross Ford, 1 Al Dickinson
Replacements: 16 Aleki Lutui, 17 Wicus Blaauw, 18 Geoff Cross, 19 Ollie Atkins, 20 Roddy Grant, 21 Grayson Hart, 22 Joaquin Dominguez, 23 Tom Brown

Gloucester: 15 Rob Cook, 14 Martyn Thomas, 13 Henry Trinder, 12 Billy Twelvetrees (c), 11 Jonny May, 10 Freddie Burns, 9 Jimmy Cowan, 8 Ben Morgan, 7 Matt Kvesic, 6 Sione Kalamafoni, 5 James Hudson, 4 Elliot Stooke, 3 Shaun Knight, 2 Darren Dawidiuk, 1 Yann Thomas
Replacements: 16 Huia Edmonds, 17 Dan Murphy, 18 Rupert Harden, 19 Tom Hicks, 20 Matt Cox, 21 Dan Robson, 22 Mike Tindall, 23 Steph Reynolds

Date: Sunday 8th December
Venue: Murrayfield
Kick-off: 1300 (local and GMT)
Referee: Jerome Garces (France)
Assistant referees: Sebastien Cloute, Jerome Lamirand (both France)
TMO: Philippe Bonhoure (France)

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