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Preview: Ospreys v Edinburgh

20th September 2013 09:10

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Geoff Cross for Edinburgh

Starts: Geoff Cross

Edinburgh front-row forwards Geoff Cross and Aleki Lutui will start their first match of the season against the Ospreysin Swansea on Saturday.

The pair's promotion is the only tweak to the side that kicked off last Friday's win over Dragons, with back-row Roddy Grant handed the captaincy job.

With Ross Ford out of the matchday 23, James Hilterbrand could follow Lutui's lead in making his competitive debut for the club, should he come on.

"The way things have gone, Geoff and Aleki have had no game time and it's important that they get that as part of a rotation", explained Solomons.

"It's now up to them to perform and help maintain the standards set by the pack last week.

"They are experienced international players and should slot in to the side seamlessly, while reselection of the backs allows us to retain a measure of consistency in that area."

Standing in Edinburgh's way of a second successive Welsh win is an unbeaten Ospreys side that has taken six points from two games on the road, with Solomons' men the first to run out at the Liberty Stadium this season.

"Ospreys have consistently been one of the top sides in the PRO12. They're always in contention when the competition reaches the business end," he added.

"They're very tough opponents, especially at home, so it's going to be a real challenge for the players. However, the way I look at it, is that it's a wonderful opportunity for them to show what they can do.

"As a team we're looking for continuous improvement across the board.

"I think we saw a bit of that in our defence against Dragons last weekend, and I'd like to see more in that area once again."

Meanwhile, the Ospreys have handed Canadian international Jeff Hassler his first PRO12 start on the right wing while Aisea Natoga will make his debut if he comes off the bench.

Lions quartet Ian Evans, Alun-Wyn Jones, Adam Jones and Richard Hibbard are all in the XV running out on home soil.

"It's great to be back at the Liberty this weekend, we're all looking forward to being home again after two tough games at the road," said head coach Steve Tandy.

"Treviso and Leinster are among the two most difficult places to go in the PRO12 so to have come through a tough start to the season unbeaten, with six points and two positive performances, is a pleasing start.

"Over the next few weeks we need to kick on and raise a higher level again. We've got a few work-on's from last weekend, some areas of the performance that need to improve, but it's been a good few days in training preparing for the game and there's a real buzz about the place."

Form: Ospreys have made an unbeaten start to their RaboDirect PRO12 campaign, winning 24-19 in Treviso and drawing 29-all at Leinster. The Welshmen have won their last nine games in the PRO12 at the Liberty Stadium since Glasgow were the visitors on 14th September 2012, however, Ospreys have won just one of their last five games against Scottish opponents. Edinburgh' s last four fixtures have all been won by the home side on the day, whilst their only away victory in their last nine trips in all competitions was 9-7 against Zebre in Parma in March. Edinburgh have won only once in their last 15 visits to Wales since 2009: 21-19 at the Blues last September. Ospreys have lost just one of their last four fixtures with Edinburgh, whilst the Scotsmen have not been victorious at Liberty Stadium since 25 April 2009.

The teams:

Ospreys: 15 Richard Fussell, 14 Jeff Hassler, 13 Andrew Bishop, 12 Ashley Beck, 11 Eli Walker, 10 Dan Biggar, 9 Tito Tebaldi, 8 Morgan Allen, 7 Sam Lewis, 6 Tom Smith, 5 Ian Evans, 4 Alun Wyn Jones (capt), 3 Adam Jones, 2 Richard Hibbard, 1 Duncan Jones.
Replacements: 16 Scott Baldwin, 17 Ryan Bevington, 18 Joe Rees, 19 Tyler Ardron, 20 Justin Tipuric, 21 Tom Grabham, 22 Matthew Morgan, 23 Aisea Natoga.

Edinburgh: 15 Greig Tonks, 14 Nikki Walker, 13 Dougie Fife, 12 Nick De Luca, 11 Tim Visser, 10 Harry Leonard, 9 Sean Kennedy, 8 David Denton, 7 Roddy Grant (capt), 6 Dimitri Basilaia, 5 Izak van der Westhuizen, 4 Grant Gilchrist, 3 Geoff Cross, 2 Aleki Lutui, 1 Alasdair Dickinson.
Replacements: 16 James Hilterbrand, 17 Wicus Blaauw, 18 WP Nel, 19 Ollie Atkins, 20 Hamish Watson, 21 Sam Hidalgo-Clyne, 22 Michael Tait, 23 Jack Cuthbert.

Date: Saturday, September 21
Kick-off: 18:30 BST
Venue: Liberty Stadium
Referee: Claudio Blessano (Italy)
Assistant referees: Gwyn Morris (Wales), Greg Morgan (Wales)
Television match official: Paul Adams (Wales)

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