Planet Rugby

Preview: Edinburgh v Ospreys

22nd November 2012 11:18

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Michael Bradley Edinburgh boss 2012

Under pressure: Michael Bradley

Edinburgh return to RaboDirect PRO12 action against champions Ospreys at Murrayfield on Friday, desperate to revive their campaign.

The Scotland outfit can count six changes to the side that lost to unbeaten Pro12 leaders Ulster before the break in the domestic timetable, and target a revitalised return to the league campaign.

The club's only win over Welsh opposition this season was the 21-19 reverse over Cardiff Blues in September, and they will face a much sterner assessment from an Ospreys side enjoying a five-match winning streak in the tournament.

The Welshmen are fifth on points' difference alone, with a win capable of lifting them into a top four play-off place for the first time this season.

"We return for the first match in the 'second phase' of the season and look to get moving against a formidable opponent in the shape of the PRO12 champions," said Edinburgh head coach Michael Bradley.

"They come here full of confidence having won five on the bounce in the league and will be keen to maintain their run and underline their championship credentials.

"Both matches last season were close affairs; at Liberty Stadium they cleared their lines and ran the full length to score in the last minute and here, at Murrayfield, they edged us by a single point, thanks to the converted try-of-the-season from [Hanno] Dirksen.

"What is frustrating is that in the league this season we have been a score a-drift on four occasions, a narrow gap which we must crack tomorrow night.

"This match is hugely important to our season. It's up to us to put a marker down and start this phase of the season on the front foot."

The home side's changes are evenly split between the forwards and backs.

Hooker Ross Ford returns from Scotland duty to start in place of the injured Andy Titterrell (hamstring) and packs down between props John Yapp and Willem Nel.

Izak van der Westhuizen and Perry Parker form a new look second-row, while the back-row of Sean Cox, Roddy Grant and Stuart McInally remains unchanged.

Sep Visser (wing) and Dougie Fife (outside-centre) replace the injured Lee Jones and John Houston, who moves to the bench, with James King (inside-centre) earning reselection after an impressive return against Ulster.

Scrum-half Richie Rees trades places with Chris Leck to line-up next to stand-off Gregor Hunter, while Greig Tonks and Tom Brown keep their places in the back three.

Meanwhile, Andrew Bishop will set a new appearance record for the Ospreys when he lines up in the centres.

Bishop, whose debut came against the Borders in 2005, will be making his 181st appearance for the region, moving ahead of Paul James at the top of the list.

At the other end of the spectrum, Owen Williams makes his RaboDirect PRO12 debut - with Nicky Thomas set for his first domestic appearance if he comes off the bench.

Form: Edinburgh have lost their last seven encounters in all competitions since overcoming Zebre 41-10 at Murrayfield in the RaboDirect PRO12 on 14 September. Edinburgh's only win over a Welsh region in their last four such fixtures was 21-19 over Cardiff Blues at the Arms Park on 7 September. Ospreys, the reigning RaboDirect PRO12 champions, have got their defence back on track courtesy of five successive victories in the tournament. Ospreys have won just one of their last four matches against Scottish opponents. Ospreys achieved the season's double over Edinburgh in 2011/12, claiming a win at Murrayfield for the first time since 2007 in the process.

The teams:

Edinburgh: 15 Greig Tonks, 14 Sep Visser, 13 Dougie Fife, 12 James King, 11 Tom Brown, 10 Gregor Hunter, 9 Richie Rees, 8 Stuart McInally, 7 Roddy Grant, 6 Sean Cox (c), 5 Izak van der Westhuizen, 4 Perry Parker, 3 Willem Nel, 2 Ross Ford, 1 John Yapp
Replacements: 16 Alun Walker, 17 Allan Jacobsen, 18 Lewis Niven, 19 Robert McAlpine, 20 Hamish Watson, 21 Chris Leck, 22 John Houston, 23 Mike Penn.

Ospreys: 15 Richard Fussell 14 Tom Isaacs, 13 Andrew Bishop, 12 Jonathan Spratt, 11 Eli Walker, 10 Matthew Morgan, 9 Rhys Webb, 8 Joe Bearman (c), 7 Sam Lewis, 6 George Stowers, 5 James King, 4 Lloyd Peers, 3 Owen Williams, 2 Scott Baldwin, 1 Ryan Bevington.
Replacements: 16 Duncan Jones, 17 Matthew Dwyer, 18 Nicky Thomas, 19 Ian Gough, 20 Morgan Allen, 21 Tom Habberfield, 22 Matthew Morgan, 23 Ross Jones.

Date: Friday, 23 November
Venue: Murrayfield
Kick-off: 19:05 GMT
Referee: David Wilkinson (Ireland)
Assistant referees: David Changleng (Scotland), Adrian Graves (Scotland)
Television match official: Iain Heard (Scotland)
Assessor: Jim Fleming (Scotland)

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