Preview: Edinburgh v Zebre

Date published: October 27 2016

Acting Head Coach Duncan Hodge has made four changes to Edinburgh's starting side for their PRO12 clash against Zebre at BT Murrayfield on Friday.

All of the changes come in the forward pack, and are split equally between the front-three and the back-row.

Tighthead prop Felipe Arregui will make his first start as he replaces the injured WP Nel (neck) in the front-row, while hooker Stuart McInally makes a direct swap from the bench with Ross Ford.

In the back-row, Magnus Bradbury switches from blindside flanker to number eight with the incoming Viliame Mata donning the number six shirt in his first home start.

John Hardie comes in for Hamish Watson on the openside flank to join Mata and Bradbury in the back-row.

Hodge said: "We’ve named a fairly settled squad for this week as we go back into PRO12 action and look to build on the three consecutive wins.

"The support last week at BT Murrayfield was outstanding and we can’t wait to get back out in front of our home fans and put in another performance they can be proud of."

The entire starting back division remains from last week’s 36-35 defeat of Harlequins.

The try-scoring trio of Blair Kinghorn, Damien Hoyland and Tom Brown continue as the back-three unit, while Chris Dean and Phil Burleigh remain as the centre pairing.

Sean Kennedy and Jason Tovey start at scrum-half and stand-off respectively. 

Allan Dell – who was a late call-up into last week’s starting side – joins McInally and Arregui in the front-row, while the lock-pairing of captain Grant Gilchrist and Ben Toolis are named. 

Zebre coach Gianluca Guidi has made two changes to his starting line-up. Guilio Bisegni takes the place of the injured Gabriele Di Giulio moving from centre to the wing, leaving Tommaso Boni the number 13 jersey. 

In the front-row, hooker Tommaso D'Apice will wear the number two jersey in place of the suspended Oliviero Fabiani.

Form: Edinburgh have won their last three matches, the two most recent in the European Challenge Cup taking them to the top of pool five in that tournament. The Scotsmen’s only defeat to an Italian opponent in their last eight such meetings was 11-19 to Zebre in Parma in October 2015. Zebre are still without a win this season with their most recent victory in the PRO12 being against Newport Gwent Dragons in Parma in round 22 last season. The Italians have not been victorious on the road since a trip to Worcester in the European Challenge Cup in January, and have never won in eight previous visits to Scotland. The five most recent meetings between the two sides have been shaded by Zebre by three wins to two, with all three victories being at Stadio Sergio Lanfranchi.

The teams:

Edinburgh: 15 Blair Kinghorn, 14 Damien Hoyland, 13 Chris Dean, 12 Phil Burleigh, 11 Tom Brown, 10 Jason Tovey, 9 Sean Kennedy, 8 Magnus Bradbury, 7 John Hardie, 6 Viliame Mata, 5 Grant Gilchrist (c), 4 Ben Toolis, 3 Felipe Arregui, 2 Stuart McInally, 1 Allan Dell
Replacements: 16 Ross Ford, 17 Jack Cosgrove, 18 Murray McCallum, 19 Fraser McKenzie, 20 Cornell Du Preez, 21 Sam Hidalgo-Clyne, 22 Michael Allen, 23 Glenn Bryce

Zebre: 15 Edoardo Padovani, 14 Giulio Bisegni, 13 Tommaso Boni, 12 Tommaso Castello, 11 Giovanbattista Venditti, 10 Carlo Canna, 9 Marcello Violi, 8 Andries Van Schalkwyk, 7 Johan Meyer, 6 Maxime Mbandà, 5 George Biagi (c), 4 Quintin Geldenhuys, 3 Pietro Ceccarelli, 2 Tommaso D'Apice, 1 Andrea Lovotti
Replacements: 16 Massimo Ceciliani, 17 Andrea De Marchi, 18 Dario Chistolini, 19 Federico Ruzza, 20 Derick Minnie, 21 Guglielmo Palazzani, 22 Matteo Pratichetti, 23 Giovanni D'Onofrio

Date: Friday, October 28
Venue: BT Murrayfield
Time: 19:35 local (18:35 GMT) 
Referee: Marius Mitrea (Italy) 
Assistant Referees: Emanuele Tomo (Italy), Sam Grove-White (Scotland)
TMO: Tim Hayes (Wales)