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Magners Preview: Edinburgh v Connacht

Magners Preview: Edinburgh v Connacht

At Murrayfield tonight, Edinburgh and Connacht will both be looking for their first win in four outings, although Magners League basement side Connacht have not beaten the Scots since late 2005.

MAGNERS LEAGUE: Friday, March 21

EDINBURGH v CONNACHT, Murrayfield, 7.30pm (live Setanta Sports 1)

Team News: Connacht coach Michael Bradley has made three changes to his starting line-up for Friday’s league encounter with Edinburgh.

Both John Lyne and Andrew Browne are set to make their first competitive starts for the province.

Lyne, who has recovered from his calf injury which left him sidelined for the majority of the season, performed well in last week’s ‘A’ match against Ulster and is playing for the first time for Connacht since appearing against Harlequins in pre-season.

Browne, who has been pivotal in helping Galwegians reach the semi final of the AIB Cup, last played for Connacht against Munster in December and is partnering captain Andrew Farley in the second row for the first time since September.

In the backs, Tim Donnelly starts at out-half with the rest of the back-line remaining unchanged since Connacht’s last game against Leinster three weeks ago.

Connemara out-half Troy Nathan is also included among the replacements for the first time, having trained with the squad since November.

The following players were not considered due to injury: John Hearty (hip), Ray Ofisa (arm), Michael Swift (kidney) and Ofisa Treviranus (leg).

Meanwhile, Scotland captain Mike Blair will return to competitive action for Edinburgh against Connacht, but his fellow international Allister Hogg has been chosen to lead Edinburgh.

Blair and Hogg are also joined by Simon Webster, Hugo Southwell and Craig Smith, all of whom featured during Scotland’s final Six Nations match against Italy last weekend.

Scotland prop Allan Jacobsen misses out after sustaining a groin injury, while hooker Ross Ford is also ruled out because of ankle ligament damage.

Centre Nick De Luca returns to midfield action after recovering from an ankle injury, while David Callam has also been handed a starting berth after a spell sidelined with a shoulder injury.

Winger Andrew Turnbull has been given permission from Scotland Sevens coach Stephen Gemmell to replace Roland Reid in the Edinburgh squad after the former Scotland international was forced to pull out with a hamstring injury.

EDINBURGH: Hugo Southwell; Simon Webster, Ben Cairns, Nick De Luca, John Houston; Phil Godman, Mike Blair; Gavin Kerr, Andrew Kelly, Craig Smith, Craig Hamilton, Ben Gissing, Allister Hogg (capt), Ross Rennie, David Callam.

Replacements: Augusto Allori, Steve Lawrie, Simon Cross, Matt Mustchin, Ben Meyer, Calum MacRae, Andrew Turnbull.

CONNACHT: Gavin Duffy; Keith Matthews, Matt Mostyn, Mel Deane, Aidan Wynne; Tim Donnelly, Conor O’Loughlin; John Lyne, Adrian Flavin, Robbie Morris, Andrew Browne, Andrew Farley (capt), John Muldoon, Johnny O’Connor, Colm Rigney.

Replacements: Joey Merrigan, Brett Wilkinson, Ronan Loughney, David Gannon, Michael McCarthy, Conor McPhillips, Troy Nathan.

Referee: James Jones (Wales)

Say What: Andy Robinson (Edinburgh) – “We are extremely pleased to be able to welcome back the Scotland contingent immediately after the Six Nations.

“Friday’s match against Connacht is the first of our final six matches in the Magners League and it is important we produce a good performance.

“We realise that Connacht is going to be a difficult test and, after assessing their recent performances, we are under no illusions they will prove to be tough opponents.

“But we are expecting a decent crowd for this match and it would be ideal if we could mark the Easter weekend with a home win.”

Michael Bradley (Connacht) – “Since we played Edinburgh last, they’ve had a very good run of results which ended with Munster’s defeat of them at Murrayfield last time out.

“They’re playing very good rugby at the moment, as are Glasgow, and when we go to Edinburgh we’re expecting to meet a side full of confidence on that basis.

“We’re very much aware of the type of game they’ll try and play. We expect them to express themselves and keep the ball alive so it could well be a wide open game.

“We’ve got to insure that we put pressure on them in defence to insure that they can’t secure their offloads.

“That could then create opportunities for us to convert defence into attack and if we can convert those opportunities it could swing the balance in our favour at the end of the day.”

Top Scorers: 2007/08 Magners League – Points: Edinburgh: Phil Godman 67; Connacht: Tim Donnelly 74; Tries: Edinburgh: Ben Cairns, Nick De Luca 3 each; Connacht: Robbie Morris, Conor O’Loughlin 2 each.


Friday, August 24, 2001 – Connacht 21 Edinburgh 30, The Sportsground
Saturday, September 6, 2003 – Connacht 11 Edinburgh 3, The Sportsground
Friday, February 13, 2004 – Edinburgh 17 Connacht 32, Neadowbank
Saturday, October 16, 2004 – Connacht 24 Edinburgh 35, The Sportsground
Friday, March 4, 2005 – Edinburgh 13 Connacht 16, Murrayfield
Saturday, September 10, 2005 – Edinburgh 34 Connacht 3, Murrayfield
Friday, May 5, 2006 – Connacht 22 Edinburgh 16, The Sportsground
Friday, September 22, 2006 – Connacht 22 Edinburgh 22, The Sportsground
Friday, January 26, 2007 – Edinburgh 49 Connacht 31, Murrayfield
Friday, October 26, 2007 – Connacht 14 Edinburgh 14, The Sportsground


– Edinburgh are winless in their last three matches in all competitions but did draw 10-10 last time out against Newport Gwent Dragons at Rodney Parade in the Magners League on February 29

– Connacht have lost their last three games in all competitions. Their only away win since September 2006 has been a 60-0 success over Spanish outfit Cetransa El Salvador in the European Challenge Cup on January 13

– Connacht have not won in Scotland since a 29-15 victory at the now defunct Border Reivers in the Magners League in September 2006

– Connacht have not beaten Edinburgh since a 16-13 win at Murrayfield in March 2005