Edinburgh head coach Rob Moffat has challenged his players to show the same ruthlessness they displayed in recording a record Magners League win against Connacht last September when the Galway side return to Murrayfield on Friday (kick-off 7.05pm).
Edinburgh’s eight-try 62-13 triumph 14 months ago was their biggest ever success in the tournament, and Moffat wants a repeat of the conviction that underpinned the victory as his men chase their fourth straight Magners League win at home.
The Borderer confirmed: “It was a terrific night for us last time against Connacht – the players gave us everything we’d asked for.
“We’re well aware that the margin of victory that game was pretty exceptional, but the guys should be looking at the qualities that produced the result and looking to replicate them this weekend.
“If we do that, we’ll give ourselves an excellent chance of winning the game and continuing that good recent run at Murrayfield.”
Moffat’s starting line-up for the game shows four changes from the 21-9 victory over Benetton Treviso three weeks ago. Craig Hamilton comes into the second row in place of Scott MacLeod, while Stuart McInally, who impressed on debut for Scotland A in the win over USA Eagles last Friday, will make his first Edinburgh start at No.8. Netani Talei switches to blindside flanker as a result.
Behind the scrum, Tim Visser returns to the wing having withdrawn from the Treviso game after picking up a groin strain in the warm-up. Chris Paterson, meanwhile, has been named at full-back.
The Connacht clash could turn into a gala occasion for tight-head prop Geoff Cross, who will make his 100th Magners League appearance should he emerge from the replacements’ bench. Also among the substitutes are lock forward Steven Turnbull and winger
Andrew Turbull, who are both in line to sample competitive Edinburgh action for the first time this season.
Moffa insisted: “Just like with the Treviso game, the match 23 is a good mix. There’s plenty of experience in there, and also a number of guys who will think they should be playing more often.
“It’s a great opportunity for them to give the coaches something to think about, and the best way for that to happen is by them winning the game.
“It’s a big test for all of us on Friday. I’ve been watching Connacht pretty closely this season, and there’s no doubt they’ve really moved up a gear and added a number of impressive things to their game.
“You only have to look at them beating Samoa [Scotland’s final EMC Autumn Tests opponents at Pittodrie on Saturday] to know what we’ll be up against: we’ll need everyone to be switched on, and everyone to contribute.
“If we get that level of intensity and ambition right from the start, I’ve every confidence we can give the fans another positive performance and result.”
Tickets for the Connacht game, including the £10 student special (which offers the bearer a FREE burger at the Three Sisters (Cowgate) and £1 off entry at Broke@City post-match), are available from www.edinburghrugby.org, by calling 0131 346 5180 or by visiting the Murrayfield Ticket Centre (off Roseburn Street) in person. Adult tickets £15 if booked before 5pm Thursday.
EDINBURGH TEAM TO PLAY CONNACHT IN THE Magners League AT MURRAYFIELD ON FRIDAY 26 NOVEMBER, KICK-OFF 7.05PM
15 Chris Paterson
14 Jim Thompson
13 Ben Cairns
12 John Houston
11 Tim Visser
10 David Blair
9 Greig Laidlaw
1 Kyle Traynor
2 Andrew Kelly
3 David Young
4 Craig Hamilton
5 Fraser McKenzie
6 Netani Talei
7 Roddy Grant (CAPTAIN)
8 Stuart McInally
16 Finlay Gillies
17 Geoff Cross
18 Lewis Niven
19 Steven Turnbull
20 Scott Newlands
21 Ross Samson
22 Alex Grove
23 Andrew Turnbull