Preview: Edinburgh v Dragons

Date published: April 16 2015

The first semi-final of the European weekend comes from Murrayfield as Edinburgh play host to an in-form Dragons side in the Challenge Cup.

On the back of a heavy home loss to Munster in the PRO12, the Scottish side will be keen to hit back against a Welsh region who last week beat Leinster.

And it is no surprise that changes were at a minimum from Dragons director of rugby Lyn Jones, who brings in just the one fresh face for Friday's game.

Full-back Jason Tovey retains his place in the back-three and is joined by wings Tom Prydie and Hallam Amos. The centre pairing also remains the same with Tyler Morgan and Jack Dixon named. Fly-half Dorian Jones and scrum-half Jonathan Evans also get the nod to keep their spots in the European clash.

The front-row has two tweaks made to it as Brok Harris moves over to loosehead prop and Dan Way steps in as tighthead prop, they are joined by hooker and captain T. Rhys Thomas. The second-row remains the same as last weekend as James Thomas and Cory Hill take up their positions. The back-row consists of flankers Nick Crosswell and Nic Cudd, who are set to be joined by Welsh international number eight Taulupe Faletau.

"It's a massive confidence-booster beating Leinster but Friday is cup rugby. Edinburgh lost to Munster but it will have no reflection on the semi-final," replacement forward James Benjamin, who scored twice last week, told the Dragons' website.

"We are on such a good run and all the back-rows are playing brilliantly. Everyone has got to try and put pressure on each other. It's up to the coaches and I am sure whoever they pick will do a good job.

"We've just got to go to Murrayfield, play our hearts out and hopefully get the win."

Meanwhile, Edinburgh head coach Alan Solomons has made seven changes to the starting XV from last Saturday's home league defeat to Munster, four in the backs and three in the pack.

Returning at full-back, in place of Greig Tonks who is carrying a hamstring injury, is Jack Cuthbert while Sam Beard comes in at outside centre. Andries Strauss and Tim Visser retain their places at inside centre and left wing respectively.

There's a change in the half-back pairing as Phil Burleigh moves from outside centre to fly-half, with Sam Hidalgo-Clyne returning from injury at nine.

With three exceptions, the pack is unchanged since last weekend with Alasdair Dickinson at loosehead, WP Nel at tighthead and Ross Ford at hooker. Anton Bresler and Ben Toolis maintain the partnership at lock with Roddy Grant moving to openside in place of the injured Hamish Watson and Stuart McInally coming in at blindside. 

Following a head knock sustained early in the first half of last Saturday’s fixture, David Denton is following the return to play protocols and is not available for selection. Captain Mike Coman returns from injury to take the number eight jersey.

A welcome return to the bench comes in the shape of back row Cornell Du Preez, returning from a serious lower leg injury sustained in the PRO12 win over Dragons last October.

"This is a massive match for the team and the club. We are all aware of what is at stake and need to play accordingly," said Solomons.

The teams:

Edinburgh: 15 Jack Cuthbert, 14 Dougie Fife, 13 Sam Beard, 12 Andries Strauss, 11 Tim Visser, 10 Phil Burleigh, 9 Sam Hidalgo-Clyne, 8 Mike Coman (c), 7 Roddy Grant, 6 Stuart McInally, 5 Ben Toolis, 4 Anton Bresler, 3 WP Nel, 2 Ross Ford, 1 Alasdair Dickinson.
Replacements: 16 Neil Cochrane, 17 Rory Sutherland, 18 John Andress, 19 Fraser McKenzie, 20 Cornell Du Preez, 21 Nathan Fowles, 22 Tom Heathcote, 23 Tom Brown.

Dragons: 15 Jason Tovey, 14 Tom Prydie, 13 Tyler Morgan, 12 Jack Dixon, 11 Hallam Amos, 10 Dorian Jones, 9 Jonathan Evans, 8 Taulupe Faletau, 7 Nic Cudd, 6 Nick Crosswell, 5 Cory Hill, 4 James Thomas, 3 Dan Way, 2 T. Rhys Thomas (c), 1 Brok Harris.
Replacements: 16 Rhys Buckley, 17 Phil Price, 18 Lloyd Fairbrother, 19 Matthew Screech, 20 James Benjamin, 21 Luc Jones, 22 Ashton Hewitt, 23 Geraint Rhys Jones.

Date: Friday, April 17
Venue: Murrayfield
Kick-off: 19:45 BST (18:45 GMT)
Referee: JP Doyle (Eng)
Assistant referees: Luke Pearce (Eng), Marius Mitrea (Ita)
TMO: Marshall Kilgore (Ire)