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Preview: Edinburgh v Dragons

21st April 2011 12:08

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Tim Visser March 2010

Top try-scorer: Tim Visser

Edinburgh head into their final home game of the Magners League season against Dragons on Friday looking to secure a third straight Murrayfield triumph.

The capital club have seen off Ospreys and Aironi in the last two matches to be played at the national stadium, and have the added incentive of seeking to gain revenge for the defeat they suffered at Rodney Parade back on February 12.

That match was Nick Scrivener's first in charge, and the interim head coach is determined to end his tenure on a winning note before heading back to Australia at the end of the campaign.

"It's vitally important that we build on the many good things we saw against Aironi, both to finish the season as strongly as possible and to make sure our fans have something to celebrate come Friday night," he said.

Scrivener's starting line-up for the game shows four personnel changes from the victory over Aironi, with all of the switches injury-related. Roddy Grant (knee) Fraser McKenzie (shoulder) are both unavailable, so Ross Rennie and Stuart McInally return at openside and blindside respectively.

Neither of Friday's flankers has started a match since February, with Rennie having been out with a foot complaint and McInally with a hand injury.

Behind the scrum, shoulder injuries see Ben Cairns and James King miss out, and so Nick De Luca starts at inside centre with Jim Thompson moving to 13. Chris Paterson is offered the chance to reprise last week's try-scoring heroics from the off at full-back.

"Dragons will be going all out to force a repeat of what happened the last time we met," said Scrivener.

"We got outdone up front that day, and our watchword this week has to be control. We need to control the pace of the game, control the physicality of the game and deal with the pressure Dragons will bring to bear at the set-piece and through their counter-rucking at the breakdown.

"The talent we have in the backs was there to see against Aironi, so it's about giving those players a platform to achieve all that we know they can."

One of Edinburgh's backline big guns, Tim Visser, broke the record for the most individual tries in a Magners League season by crossing against the Italians.

The reigning Magners League Young Player of the Season and competition top scorer is once more leading the try charts, testament to the standards he has set and maintained in his second season as a professional.

"Tim's appetite for tries, and for improving as a player, make him a pleasure to work with," said Scrivener.

Meanwhile, Welsh U20 scrum-half Jon Evans will get his second Magners League start of the season for Dragons whilst Matthew Pewtner starts on the wing.

18-year-old Evans, who made his Dragons debut last season against the Ospreys, having gone straight from one of his A Level exams to get on the team bus has impressed this season with his form both for Newport and the national side.

"The new contracts have allowed me to be a lot more involved with the Dragons this season," said Evans.

"I never expected to be starting for the senior team this season but the coaches pick on form regardless of who you are so I intend to make the most of this opportunity. They also watch the Premiership a lot so they always know exactly what's going on - even if you've not been playing for the region.

"I like to play the game at pace - Dwayne Peel is one of the players I would have watched when I was younger - I've always liked the speed of his game. Having come back from the Under 20's I'm concentrating on my game so I've not been focussing too much on Edinburgh. The Dragons have given me a lot of opportunity and Friday is a chance to prove myself again."

Dragons wing Adam Hughes will replace the injured Will Harries at full-back. The region is without a specialist full-back following the withdrawal of Martyn Thomas, Will Harries and Pat Leach through injury.

Form: Edinburgh have won two of their last three games and are going for a third successive victory at Murrayfield. Edinburgh recorded a first win of the season against a Welsh region when they beat Ospreys on 26 March. Dragons have recorded back to back victories over Treviso and Ospreys but have not won on the road since their trip to Aironi on 20 February. Dragons are winless in Scotland since the visited Edinburgh on 1 November 2009. Edinburgh have won just one of their last seven encounters with the Dragons: 43-3 at Murrayfield on 9 May 2009.

The teams:

Edinburgh: 15 Chris Paterson, 14 Simon Webster, 13 Jim Thompson, 12 Nick De Luca, 11 Tim Visser, 10 Greig Laidlaw, 9 Mike Blair, 8 David Denton, 7 Ross Rennie, 6 Stuart McInally, 5 Esteban Lozada, 4 Scott MacLeod, 3 Geoff Cross, 2 Andrew Kelly (c), 1 Kyle Traynor.
Replacements: 16 Alun Walker, 17 Robin Hislop, 18 Lewis Niven, 19 Steven Turnbull, 20 Scott Newlands, 21 David Blair, 22 Lee Jones, 23 Tom Brown.

Dragons: 15 Adam Hughes, 14 Matthew Pewtner, 13 Tom Riley, 12 Ashley Smith (C), 11 Aled Brew, 10 Jason Tovey, 9 Jon Evans,8 Joe Bearman, 7 Gavin Thomas, 6 Dan Lydiate, 5 Adam Jones, 4 Andrew Coombs, 3 Dan Way, 2 Steve Jones, 1 Hugh Gustafson.
Replacements: 16 Lloyd Burns, 17 Phil Price, 18 Ben Castle, 19 Lewis Evans, 20 Toby Faletau, 21 Matthew Watkins, 22 Wayne Evans, 23 Matthew Jones.

Date: Friday, April 22
Venue: Murrayfield
Kick-off: 19.30 BST
Referee: David Wilkinson

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