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Preview: Edinburgh v Ulster

21st March 2013 12:10

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Netani Talei of Edinburgh makes a break v Ulster

Power: Netani Talei

Interim head coach Stevie Scott has named the Edinburgh side to face Ulster at Murrayfield on Friday.

Scott has made three changes to the pack for the Ulster clash, with international back-row Ross Rennie making a welcome return from the shoulder injury he sustained in Scotland's Test match against New Zealand in November.

Netani Talei replaces the injured David Denton at number eight and lock Grant Gilchrist comes back into the squad after his international debut against France last weekend.

Both Scott and interim assistant coach Duncan Hodge have seen enough of promising young scrum-half Sean Kennedy from his Scotland A success and loan spell at Glasgow Warriors to hand the 21-year-old his Edinburgh Rugby debut, where he'll partner Piers Francis at half-back from the outset.

Ben Atiga returns to inside-centre for his 10th appearance in the competition alongside Dougie Fife, who has been moved infield to accommodate Tom Brown on the wing, with the back three completed by Greig Tonks and Lee Jones.

Of note is the firepower named on the bench, with an all-international front-row of Ross Ford, John Yapp and Geoff Cross ready to enter the fray as well as the division's three-time top try-scorer, Tim Visser.

"The players' reaction in training this week has been excellent. It's been a tough season but their commitment to improving and getting results for the club and its fans has been superb," said Scott.

"A lot of hard work has gone in this week but, importantly, the work done has also been of a very high standard. There's a real will to do whatever it takes to get our results back on track."

Meanwhile, Johann Muller is selected for the first time since February for Ulster and is joined in the second row by Lewis Stevenson.

Dan Tuohy has been named in the back row alongside Mike McComish and Robbie Diack, who have been retained from the team which drew with Treviso. John Afoa has switched back to his regular tighthead prop position, with Tom Court at loosehead and Rob Herring at hooker.

Jared Payne will line up at full-back for the first time since the beginning of January and is joined in the back three by Andrew Trimble and Michael Allen.

Paul Marshall is another returning player and he will be partnered at half-back by fellow Irish cap Paddy Jackson. Stuart Olding, who has scored twice in his last two games for the Province, will again combine with Darren Cave in midfield.

Nick Williams and Peter Nelson have returned from injury and are named among the replacements. They are joined on the bench by Niall Annett, Michael Heaney, Callum Black, Ali Birch and Ricky Andrew.

Edinburgh: 15 Greig Tonks, 14 Lee Jones, 13 Dougie Fife, 12 Ben Atiga, 11 Tom Brown, 10 Piers Francis, 9 Sean Kennedy, 8 Netani Talei, 7 Ross Rennie, 6 Stuart McInally, 5 Sean Cox (c), 4 Grant Gilchrist, 3 Willem Nel, 2 Steven Lawrie, 1 Allan Jacobsen.
Replacements: 16 Ross Ford, 17 John Yapp, 18 Geoff Cross, 19 Perry Parker, 20 Hamish Watson, 21 Richie Rees, 22 Harry Leonard, 23 Tim Visser.

Ulster: 15 Jared Payne, 14 Andrew Trimble, 13 Darren Cave, 12 Stuart Olding, 11 Michael Allen, 10 Paddy Jackson, 9 Paul Marshall, 8 Robbie Diack, 7 Mike McComish, 6 Dan Tuohy, 5 Lewis Stevenson, 4 Johann Muller (c), 3 John Afoa, 2 Rob Herring, 1 Tom Court.
Replacements: 16 Niall Annett, 17 Calum Black, 18 Ricky Lutton, 19 Nick Williams, 20 Ali Birch, 21 Michael Heaney, 22 Ricky Andrew, 23 Peter Nelson.

Date: Friday 22 March
Venue: Parc y Scarlets
Kick-off: 19:30 GMT
Referee: Leighton Hodges (Wales)
Assistant referees: Andrew Mcmenemy (Scotland), Graeme Marshall (Scotland)
Television match official: Jim Fleming (Scotland)

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1Munster623
2Gloucester614
3Edinburgh612
4Perpignan67