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Magners Preview: Edinburgh v Connacht

Magners Preview: Edinburgh v Connacht

Connacht are back in Magners League action tonight at Murrayfield, where their hosts Edinburgh have won their last four league games. Ominously, Connacht have not won in Scotland since their victory over the now defunct Border Reivers in September 2006.

MAGNERS LEAGUE: Friday, March 27

EDINBURGH (5th) v CONNACHT (10th), Murrayfield, 7.30pm

Team News: Connacht have made two changes in personnel and one positional switch ahead of their Magners League clash with Edinburgh at Murrayfield.

Kieran Campbell, back from the recent Rugby World Cup Sevens tournament, will starts at scrumhalf at Murrayfield while Michael Swift has been recalled to the second row with Andrew Browne reverting to the back row.

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Tim Donnelly (knee), John Hearty (hip), Mike McCarthy (foot), Mike Roberts (hip) and Niva Ta’auso (leg) were not considered for selection due to their respective injuries.

Meanwhile, Scotland scrum half Mike Blair will captain an Edinburgh squad containing 22 Scottish qualified players for the first time since January when they take on Connacht.

Blair, alongside Chris Paterson, Nick De Luca, Phil Godman, Ross Ford and Jim Hamilton, returns from RBS 6 Nations duty, while winger Andrew Turnbull will be back in club colours after helping the Scotland Sevens side to the Plate title at the Rugby World Cup Sevens in Dubai.

Up front, prop Kyle Traynor retains his place in the front row to make his fourth start alongside Ford and Geoff Cross, who has recovered from a knee injury.

In the back row, Scott Newlands replaces club captain Simon Cross, who is unavailable because of a back injury, while Matt Mustchin (ankle) has been named amongst the replacements after a two-month lay-off.

Prop Gavin Kerr has shaken off a troublesome back injury to claim his spot on the bench alongside utitlity back John Houston who has recovered from a groin injury.

EDINBURGH: Chris Paterson; Andrew Turnbull, Ben Cairns, Nick De Luca, Simon Webster; Phil Godman, Mike Blair (capt); Kyle Traynor, Ross Ford, Geoff Cross, Craig Hamilton, Jim Hamilton, Scott Newlands, Alan MacDonald, Allister Hogg.

Replacements: Andrew Kelly, Gavin Kerr, Scott MacLeod, Matt Mustchin, Greig Laidlaw, David Blair, John Houston.

CONNACHT: Troy Nathan; Liam Bibo, Gavin Duffy, Keith Matthews, Fionn Carr; Ian Keatley, Kieran Campbell; Brett Wilkinson, Sean Cronin, Robbie Morris, Michael Swift, Andrew Farley, Andrew Browne, Ray Ofisa, John Muldoon (capt).

Replacements: Adrian Flavin, Ronan Loughney, David Gannon, Johnny O’Connor, Conor O’Loughlin, Andy Dunne, Mel Deane.

Referee: David Bodilly (Wales)
Assistant Referees: Andy Macpherson, Graeme Marshall (both Scotland)

Match Odds (Paddy Power): Edinburgh to win: 1/10; Draw: 28/1; Connacht to win: 5/1

Say What: Mike Blair (Edinburgh) – “It is good to be back playing for Edinburgh. We are keen to generate some momentum and that starts with the Connacht match.

“There are six games remaining and we believe that all six are winnable matches.

“With it being such a tight league, if we can achieve that goal then we can finish near the top end of the championship.”

John Muldoon (Connacht) – “Edinburgh are a quality team, they supplied 17 internationals to the Scottish set-up this year and all those players are returning off the back of five tough Six Nations games.

“They have possibly the starting scrum half for the Lions in Mike Blair and have the core of the highly respected Scottish pack to choose from. We are fully aware what to expect.

“We have had a couple of good hard weeks training during the off periods and Kevin and Greg, our fitness advisors, have really pushed us to the limit in that period.

“I think overall our form has been consistently good since Christmas but there is no hiding from the fact that we haven’t turned that into victories.

“We had a good chance to beat the Ospreys away and we simply should have beaten the Scarlets and Cardiff at home.

“That is hard to take but in recent months we have been putting ourselves in position to win game after game and we just need to keep doing that.”

Top Scorers: 2008/09 Magners League – Points: Edinburgh: Chris Paterson 78; Connacht: Ian Keatley 90; Tries: Edinburgh: Ben Cairns 3; Connacht: Fionn Carr 3


Friday, May 5, 2006 – Connacht 16 Edinburgh 22, 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
Friday, March 21, 2008 – Edinburgh 38 Connacht 8, Murrayfield
Friday, October 24, 2008 – Connacht 14 Edinburgh 27, The Sportsground


– Edinburgh have lost their last three games in all competitions since beating Castres 32-14 at Murrayfield in the Heineken Cup on January 16. However, all those three games were played away from home. Edinburgh have won their last four home matches in the Magners League

– Connacht’s only win in their last six encounters was a 49-3 triumph over Dax in Galway in the European Challenge Cup on January 23

– Connacht have won just once away from home in the Magners League since 2006 – 13-11 against the Newport Gwent Dragons at Rodney Parade on April 18, 2008

– Connacht’s most recent victory in Scotland was a 29-15 success against the now defunct Border Reivers at Netherdale on September 1, 2006

– Edinburgh are unbeaten in their last seven clashes with Connacht since the westerners won 16-13 at Murrayfield on March 4, 2005