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Preview: Edinburgh v Connacht

11th April 2013 12:31

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Edinburgh s Lee Jones v connacht

On the wing for Edinburgh: Lee Jones

Edinburgh will aim to complete a hat-trick of PRO12 wins for the first time since 2010 against Connacht at Murrayfield on Friday.

The arrival of interim coaches Stevie Scott and Duncan Hodge has brought back-to-back wins over Ulster and Zebre, with the game against the Galway men also offering the chance to complete a second successive home and away double in as many rounds.

Scott has named the same back division that defeated Zebre in Italy and has made three changes to the pack, of which two are enforced: Hamish Watson, Geoff Cross and Grant Gilchrist replace Ross Rennie (who sustained a shoulder against Zebre), Willem Nel (family bereavement) and Perry Parker, who starts on the bench.

"I've always said that that there are a lot of good players at this club so, for us, it's about getting consistency," said Scott.

"That's the challenge. We need to back up what we did against Ulster, where we saw a good response to this new coaching team, and also from the Zebre match, where we showed a lot of guts to grind out the win.

"We need to treat our home games as a big advantage to us. We've the backing of our home fans, it's a big pitch and the ground is quick and hard, which suits our players.

Meanwhile, Connacht coach Eric Elwood has made just one change to the starting XV that faced Treviso in the last round.

That change comes up front with the return from injury of lock Michael Swift. Connacht's highest capped player, who missed out on the previous two games, will join Ireland international Mike McCarthy in the second-row.

There's a reshuffle in the back-row as Mick Kearney moves to number six and John Muldoon, who earns his 195th Connacht cap, is named at number seven.

On the bench, props Rodney Ah You and JP Cooney as well as flanker Mata Fifita are included in the forwards' replacements. All three featured for the Connacht Eagles in last Saturday's challenge game against Russian side Enisei STM and Ah You and Fifita both touched down for tries.

"Edinburgh is a huge game for us and it is still our intention to better last year's finish in the league," said Elwood.

"We have Treviso to play away and we've two tough games to finish in Ulster and Glasgow who are in the top four. But we still have a hell of a lot to play for in those four games.

"There are a lot of things still in our control. We are still looking for the betterment and that improvement year on year. And that's very much a target in our sights. It starts this weekend now in Edinburgh."

Form: Edinburgh have won their last two RaboDirect PRO12 matches against Ulster and Zebre, but have not won three in a row in the competition since October 2010. Connacht's three game winning run in the PRO12 ended with their 0-22 reversal to Munster in cork on 23rd March. Connacht's only victory in their last six encounters with Scottish opponents was 26-13 over Edinburgh in Galway in February 2012. Edinburgh beat Connacht 24-23 at the Sportsground in round 10, and have not achieved a season's double over the Irishmen since 2008/09. Connacht's only victory in eight previous visits to Murrayfield was 16-13 in March 2005.

The teams:

Edinburgh: 15 Greig Tonks 14 Lee Jones, 13 Matt Scott, 12 Ben Atiga, 11 Tim Visser, 10 Piers Francis, 9 Greig Laidlaw (c), 8 Netani Talei, 7 Hamish Watson, 6 Stuart McInally, 5 Sean Cox, 4 Grant Gilchrist, 3 Geoff Cross, 2 Ross Ford, 1 Allan Jacobsen.
Replacements: 16 Steve Lawrie, 17 Robin Hislo, 18 John Yapp, 19 Perry Parke, 20 Robert McAlpine, 21 Sean Kennedy, 22 Harry Leonard, 23 Tom Brown.

Connacht: 15 Robbie Henshaw, 14 Danie Poolman, 13 Eoin Griffin, 12 Brian Murphy, 11 Gavin Duffy (c), 10 Dan Parks, 9 Kieran Marmion, 8 George Naoupu, 7 John Muldoon, 6 Mick Kearney, 5 Mike McCarthy, 4 Michael Swift, 3 Ronan Loughney, 2 Adrian Flavin, 1 Brett Wilkinson.
Replacements: 16 Ethienne Reynecke, 17 Rodney Ah You, 18 JP Cooney, 19 Andrew Browne, 20 Mata Fifita, 21 Paul O'Donohoe, 22 Miah Nikora, 23 Fetu'u Vainikolo.

Date: Friday, April 12.
Venue: Murrayfield
Kick-off: 19.30 BST (18.30 GMT)
Referee: Rhys Thomas (WRU)

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