Connacht have gone three years without winning on Scottish soil, so beating Edinburgh at Murrayfield on Friday would be a serious statement of intent for the season ahead. Michael Bradley has made three enforced changes, with young prop Jamie Hagan coming in for his first competitive start.
MAGNERS LEAGUE: Friday, September 11
EDINBURGH (5th) v CONNACHT (8th), Murrayfield, 7.30pm
Team News: Connacht have made three changes – all of them injury enforced – for their Magners League clash with Edinburgh at Murrayfield on Friday evening.
Centre Niva Ta’auso (hand) and props Brett Wilkinson (finger) and Robbie Morris (back) have been ruled out of Connacht’s second Magners League game.
Into their places from the side which picked up a losing bonus point against the Ospreys last week come Troy Nathan, Jamie Hagan and Ronan Loughney.
Meanwhile, Scotland scrum half Mike Blair has recovered from a throat infection and has been included amongst Edinburgh’s replacements for Friday’s league outing.
Blair missed the opening two days’ training of the week through illness, but has been deemed fit enough to participate in Edinburgh’s first home match of the season.
His 2009 Lions colleague Ross Ford is also in line for a competitive return, having been selected for bench duty.
Edinburgh coach Rob Moffat has made one change to the team which secured a narrow win away to Cardiff last week.
Try-scoring winger Tim Visser is replaced by Andrew Turnbull.
EDINBURGH: Chris Paterson; Mark Robertson, Ben Cairns, John Houston, Andrew Turnbull; Phil Godman, Greig Laidlaw; Allan Jacobsen, Andrew Kelly, Geoff Cross, Craig Hamilton, Scott MacLeod, Alan MacDonald, Roddy Grant, Allister Hogg (capt).
Replacements: Ross Ford, Kyle Traynor, Fraser McKenzie, Scott Newlands, Mike Blair, Steve Jones, Nick De Luca.
CONNACHT: Gavin Duffy; Brian Tuohy, Troy Nathan, Keith Matthews, Fionn Carr; Ian Keatley, Frank Murphy; Ronan Loughney, Sean Cronin, Jamie Hagan, Andrew Browne, Bernie Upton, John Muldoon (capt), Ray Ofisa, Mike McComish.
Replacements: Adrian Flavin, Conor Higgins, Mike McCarthy, Johnny O’Connor, Miah Nikora, Conor O’Loughlin, Aidan Wynne.
Referee: James Jones (Wales)
Assistant Referees: Neil Paterson, Alan Forrest (both Scotland)
Match Odds (Paddy Power): Edinburgh to win: 1/12; Draw: 33/1; Connacht to win: 6/1
Say What: John Muldoon (Connacht) – “We didn’t get as much go forward from the pack as we would have liked against the Ospreys.
“I think defence has been one of our strong points for the last few games.
“We were down to 13 men when the Ospreys scored and they taught us a lesson how ruthless you can be when people are down a man – they didn’t really get close to breaking our line bar that.
“Edinburgh had an excellent win against Cardiff and obviously their new coach (Rob Moffat) has introduced a different type of game plan.
“Traditionally Edinburgh liked to move the ball around, but they have added more direction to their game and they look really strong.”
Rob Moffat (Edinburgh) – “It was a good performance down in Cardiff and it would have been easy to say ‘same again’, but if you do that and get a few good wins, it’s very difficult for the players not involved.
“It’s nothing to do with Connacht at all. They gave Ospreys a hard game and that’s what they do against most teams – not many enjoy or find it easy playing Connacht.
“We have a 36-man squad and we’ll try to use that and manage it well over the course of the season – the level of rugby and physicality these guys are playing means there are not many that will play every week.
“We were happy with a lot of aspects of our performance last week and Tim (Visser) played well, but Andy (Turnbull) has shown up well in pre-season, is sharp, and we want to give him a run this week.”
RECENT LEAGUE MEETINGS:
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
Friday, March 27, 2009 – Edinburgh 32 Connacht 5, Murrayfield
– Edinburgh continued where they left off last season in securing a seventh successive Magners League victory in Cardiff last Friday – already a record run for a Scottish team
– The Scottish capital side have won eight league matches in-a-row at Murrayfield since Munster won 20-15 there on September 5, 2008
– Connacht’s most recent Magners League victory was a 39-17 success at home to the Newport Gwent Dragons on April 3
– The westerners have not won in Scotland since a 29-15 victory at the now defunct Border Reivers on September 1, 2006
– Edinburgh are unbeaten in their last eight clashes with Connacht, although the sequence includes two draws. Connacht’s last win over Edinburgh was a 16-13 triumph at Murrayfield on March 4, 2005