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Magners Preview: Edinburgh v Ulster

Magners Preview: Edinburgh v Ulster

The mood in the Ulster camp is buoyant after their thrilling 37-11 Magners League victory over Munster at Thomond Park last weekend. Next up for Matt Williams’ men is a trip to Murrayfield and a chance to chalk up a notable ‘season’s double’ over Edinburgh, whom they beat 13-9 at Ravenhill in October.

MAGNERS LEAGUE: Friday, January 9

EDINBURGH v ULSTER, Murrayfield, 7.45pm (live Setanta Sports 1)

Team News: Matt Williams has finalised his Ulster team and replacements for Friday’s Magners League encounter with Edinburgh at Murrayfield.

Williams has made four changes to the matchday squad which was selected for last weekend’s bonus point win over Munster.

Mark McCrea has replaced Fijian winger Timoci Nagusa, who suffered a hamstring injury against Munster, in the province’s starting line-up.

David Pollock has been promoted to the back row in place of last week’s stand-in captain Kieron Dawson, who has dropped to the bench.

Regular captain Rory Best is back to don the number 2 jersey, while Nigel Brady, who slotted in for Best last Saturday, is on the bench.

Commenting on the trip to the Scottish capital, Williams said: “My heart rate won’t change. We’ll walk through the door and go out and do what we have to do. It’s not about me, it’s about the boys.

“Edinburgh are a powerful team of great professionals, and we will give them the respect they deserve.

“The bad news for our opposition is that there were so many aspects of our game I wasn’t happy with against Munster on Saturday night.

“We can improve a lot in three or four areas, tactical and technically.”

He added: “We’re in a really positive frame of mind and we have to take that on the road, but that shouldn’t be a worry for us and there is no reason why we can’t win away from home.

“We proved that at Thomond Park. Before it was just about convincing people and now we have got the proof.

“We threw points away earlier in the year and now it is up to us to get them back. If we can win on Friday, it’s incredible how close to the top of the table we can come. So we’re going to give it a go.”

Meanwhile, Scottish Academy flanker Roddy Grant has been handed Edinburgh’s number 7 jersey for the visit of Ulster on Friday evening.

With Ross Rennie (knee ligament damage) and Alan MacDonald (head knock) both ruled out for the match, the 21-year-old Grant has been picked alongside blindside flanker Simon Cross and number 8 Allister Hogg.

Andrew Turnbull takes over the number 14 jersey in the absence of injured winger Mark Robertson (groin), while Nick De Luca is replaced by John Houston at inside centre.

Up front, Matt Mustchin (ankle) is ruled out and replaced by Craig Hamilton in one of five changes to the starting line-up that lost at Glasgow last Friday.

Chris Paterson is still unavailable for selection because of a rib injury and he is joined in the treatment room by David Callam (hip), Ryan Grant (groin), and Steven Turnbull (ankle).

EDINBURGH: Hugo Southwell; Andrew Turnbull, Ben Cairns, John Houston, Simon Webster; Phil Godman, Mike Blair (capt); Allan Jacobsen, Ross Ford, Geoff Cross, Craig Hamilton, Jim Hamilton, Simon Cross, Roddy Grant, Allister Hogg.

Replacements: Andrew Kelly, Gavin Kerr, Ben Gissing, Scott Newlands, Greig Laidlaw, David Blair, Nick De Luca.

ULSTER: Clinton Schifcofske; Andrew Trimble, Darren Cave, Paddy Wallace, Mark McCrea; Ian Humphreys, Isaac Boss; Tom Court, Rory Best (capt), BJ Botha, Ed O’Donoghue, Matt McCullough, Stephen Ferris, David Pollock, Robbie Diack.

Replacements: Nigel Brady, Justin Fitpzatrick, Filo Paulo, Kieron Dawson, Paul Marshall, Paul Steinmetz, Bryn Cunningham.

Referee: Gwyn Morris (Wales)
Assistant Referees: Iain Heard, David Anderson (both Scotland)
Television Match Official: Iain Ramage (Scotland)

Match Odds (Paddy Power): Edinburgh to win: 8/15; Draw: 20/1; Ulster to win: 6/4

Say What: Darren Cave (Ulster) – “The win over Munster will go down as one of my greatest moments in my career so far anyway and hopefully there are more nights like that to come. We really enjoyed it as a team and it’s something we will take a lot of heart from.

“It would be criminal to have such a great victory and five points away from home to throw it away this week with a poor performance (against Edinburgh). Munster is all in the past now we’ve got to be ready for Friday night.

“I haven’t played at Murrayfield before but I’m looking forward to it. Edinburgh are a very good side and they have a great coach and a lot of internationals in their side and they are very hard to beat at home.

“The win in Limerick gives us a lot of confidence, it showed us we can win away from home as well. It gave us that bit of energy and enthusiasm going into another tough away game.

“I think we know if we can win there (Thomond Park) against that great team, there should be a lot of games we can go away from home and win.”

Andy Robinson (Edinburgh) – “Myself and Matt (Williams), we have come across each other a few times. We know each other pretty well and I know he is a quality coach.

“That is borne out by the way his teams have played and been coached, and that includes Scotland. While they did not get the results, they played in a good way.

“John Houston was one of our most consistent performers last year and I think it’s right that he’s given this opportunity in the midfield.

“We didn’t get a good enough go-forward in the Glasgow game and I think the Ulster game will be a similar battle around the contact area and breakdown.

“Ulster have a good defence so we need to be able to attack them and pull them in a bit. And John Houston can maybe give us that.”

Top Scorers: 2008/09 Magners League – Points: Edinburgh: Chris Paterson 69; Ulster: Ian Humphreys 50; Tries: Edinburgh: Mark Robertson, Nick De Luca, Simon Webster, Mike Blair, Geoff Cross, Ben Cairns 2 each; Ulster: Darren Cave, Timoci Nagusa 3 each


Friday, February 17, 2006 – Edinburgh 23 Ulster 31, Murrayfield
Friday, September 15, 2006 – Edinburgh 20 Ulster 15, Murrayfield
Friday, May 11, 2007 – Ulster 16 Edinburgh 10, Ravenhill
Friday, September 28, 2007 – Edinburgh 24 Ulster 10, Murrayfield
Friday, November 30, 2007 – Ulster 14 Edinburgh 20, Ravenhill
Friday, October 3, 2008 – Ulster 13 Edinburgh 9, Ravenhill


– Edinburgh’s 25-20 defeat at Glasgow last Friday ended their three-match winning run in the Magners League. The Scottish side have won their last three games at Murrayfield in the league since Munster won 25-20 there on September 5

– Ulster have won three of their last four games in the Magners League

– Ulster’s 37-11 victory at top-of-the-table Munster last Saturday means that Ulster will be trying to win successive away games in the same season in the competition for the first time since April 2006

– Ulster’s most recent win in Scotland was a 33-9 success at the now defunct Border Reivers on April 13, 2007

– Ulster won 13-9 when the two teams met at Ravenhill in October but the Ulstermen have not achieved a ‘season’s double’ over Edinburgh since the 2005/06 campaign