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Heineken Cup Preview: Edinburgh v Ulster

Heineken Cup Preview: Edinburgh v Ulster

When these sides met at Ravenhill a few weeks ago, there was just a kick of a ball between them. Since then, Edinburgh have lost three straight matches and Brian McLaughlin’s Ulster side have won three on the bounce. Home advantage may probe to be key, but Ulster are more than capable of getting a result which will keep them at the business end of Pool 4.

HEINEKEN CUP: POOL 4: Saturday, October 17

EDINBURGH (3rd) v ULSTER (2nd), Murrayfield, 3.45pm (live on Sky Sports 2 (red button))

Team News: Ulster coach Brian McLaughlin has kept faith with the team that saw off Bath last weekend, selecting an unchanged starting line-up for Saturday’s Heineken Cup Pool 4 clash with Edinburgh.

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McLaughlin has opted to make one change to the province’s replacements bench, and it sees fit-again lock Dan Tuohy return in place of Neil McComb.

Commenting on Ulster’s first away trip of this season’s Heineken Cup, McLaughlin said: “We have shown we can win away from home in the Magners League and now it’s time for a Heineken Cup away win.

“Edinburgh will be up for the challenge at home and we will have to step it up another level again.

“They know their Heineken Cup hopes will be severely hurt if they lose their second game, so they will be going out to stop a run of three straight defeats when they face us.

“We know they are going to come at us hard and we are under no illusions about the massive task ahead of us.

“If we play to the best of our capability it is a game we are capable of winning, and after the win against Bath, we cannot afford to underachieve at Murrayfield.”

Meanwhile, for Saturday’s Celtic derby, Edinburgh boss Rob Moffat has made three changes to the side he selected for last weekend’s 31-7 loss at Stade Francais.

Lock Steve Turnbull has been handed the number 4 jersey for the match which will be his first Heineken Cup start for Edinburgh.

A former school-mate of British tennis player Andy Murray, Turnbull has overcome two serious injuries in the previous two seasons, including a fractured ankle, to secure a starting spot.

Youngster Kyle Traynor has been selected to start at loosehead prop, while Scotland centre Nick De Luca reclaims the number 13 jersey, linking up with John Houston in midfield.

EDINBURGH: Chris Paterson; Mark Robertson, Nick De Luca, John Houston, Tim Visser; Phil Godman, Mike Blair (capt); Kyle Traynor, Ross Ford, Geoff Cross, Steve Turnbull, Scott MacLeod, Alan MacDonald, Roddy Grant, Allister Hogg.

Replacements: Andrew Kelly, Allan Jacobsen, David Young, Craig Hamilton, Scott Newlands, Greig Laidlaw, Ben Cairns, Steve Jones

ULSTER: Clinton Schifcofske; Timoci Nagusa, Darren Cave, Paddy Wallace (capt), Andrew Trimble; Ian Humphreys, Isaac Boss; Tom Court, Andy Kyriacou, BJ Botha, Ed O’Donoghue, Ryan Caldwell, Stephen Ferris, Willie Faloon, Robbie Diack.

Replacements: Nigel Brady, Bryan Young, Declan Fitzpatrick, Dan Tuohy, Chris Henry, Paul Marshall, Ian Whitten, Simon Danielli.

Referee: Dave Pearson (England)
Assistant Referees: David Rose, Paul Dix (both England)
Television Match Official: Graham Hughes (England)

Match Odds (Paddy Power): Edinburgh to win: 1/2; Draw: 20/1; Ulster to win: 13/8

Pre-Match Quotes: Paddy Wallace (Ulster) – “I think we prefer it that we’re not written up as contenders. That’s better for us. We’d much rather get on with things quietly, without the hype or the profile.

“I think it’s better if we do things, almost in the background, without drawing too much attention to ourselves.

“With a young team in particular, that sort of thing can sidetrack guys. We’re aware of that, which is why Brian (McLaughlin) and Jeremy (Davidson) and Neil (Doak) do such a good job in keeping everybody’s feet on the ground.

“We’re in a position that we haven’t been in for a number of years in the Heineken Cup, which is good. Against that, we have to keep a lid on ourselves so that there’s no complacency creeping in.

“With all the form we’ve shown recently the one thing we don’t want is for anybody starting to think that it’s just a matter of turning out and turning it on again. That’s not how it works.

“We have to show up and perform as we can. With Edinburgh coming into this one having had three defeats against Leinster and Ospreys in the Magners League and Stade Francais in the Heineken Cup – and that one was a heavy defeat – they’re going to want to kickstart things for themselves.

“They’re at home and they will see us as opposition they can beat, regardless of form going into the match.

“But there may just be a few doubts in Edinburgh’s minds following those three defeats, so we have to try to play on that early on.

“We have to put them under pressure and hopefully be more ruthless when it comes to finishing than we were against them a Ravenhill a few weeks ago.”

Rob Moffat (Edinburgh) – “It is a massive challenge. Since we beat them at Ravenhill, they have won against Connacht, Scarlets and against Bath in the Heineken Cup – they are on song just now.

“I don’t believe our recent record against Ulster will affect the outcome of Saturday’s match. This is a different game and they are on form right now.

“We have to perform to the high standards that we have set. Everyone knows the importance of the game and it is all about regaining the consistency levels which helped us to finish second in the Magners League last season.

“We have learned that you cannot afford to give quality teams a big headstart – we’ve got to make the opposition fight for every point they get.

“Unfortunately we have conceded too many points which have been down to our own mistakes. So if we can cut out those errors the players realise we have got a good chance of returning to winning ways.”

Current Form – Edinburgh – (Magners League): Won 22-21 away to Cardiff Blues; Won 62-13 at home to Connacht; Won 16-13 away to Ulster; Lost 21-19 at home to Leinster; Lost 31-10 away to the Ospreys; (Heineken Cup): Lost 31-7 away to Stade Francais

Ulster – (Magners League): Lost 23-6 away to the Newport Gwent Dragons; Won 20-16 away to the Ospreys; Lost 16-13 at home to Edinburgh; Won 30-6 away to Connacht; Won 45-24 at home to the Scarlets; (Heineken Cup): Won 26-12 at home to Bath

Previous European Meetings: 2

Friday, September 18, 1998 – Pool C – Ulster 38 Edinburgh 38, Ravenhill
Sunday, November 8, 1998 – Pool C – Edinburgh 21 Ulster 23, Easter Road Stadium

Heineken Cup Records:

Edinburgh –
2008/09: Failed to qualify from Pool 2
2007/08: Failed to qualify from Pool 6
2006/07: Failed to qualify from Pool 2
2005/06: Failed to qualify from Pool 6
2004/05: Failed to qualify from Pool 5
2003/04: Reached the quarter-finals
2002/03: Failed to qualify from Pool 5
2001/02: Failed to qualify from Pool 3
2000/01: Failed to qualify from Pool 1
1999/00: Failed to qualify from Pool 6
1998/99: Failed to qualify from Pool C
1996/97: Failed to qualify from Pool A

Ulster –
2008/09: Failed to qualify from Pool 4
2007/08: Failed to qualify from Pool 2
2006/07: Failed to qualify from Pool 5
2005/06: Failed to qualify from Pool 4
2004/05: Failed to qualify from Pool 6
2003/04: Failed to qualify from Pool 1
2002/03: Failed to qualify from Pool 6
2001/02: Failed to qualify from Pool 2
2000/01: Failed to qualify from Pool 3
1999/00: Failed to qualify from Pool 3
1998/99: Champions
1997/98: Failed to qualify from Pool B
1996/97: Failed to qualify from Pool C
1995/96: Failed to qualify from Pool B