History will be made on Friday night as Aironi visit Murrayfield for the first time (kick-off 7.50pm). Edinburgh will be on the trail of a landmark of their own, as they seek to record back-to-back home Magners League victories for the first time since last November.
The capital club produced a stirring display to see off Ospreys 23-16 in their last EH12 assignment, and, with a further Murrayfield clash to come next week against Dragons, have the opportunity to further improve their seasonal home record.
Aironi, the Viadana-based outfit, have shown steady improvement throughout their debut campaign, and pushed Edinburgh all the way when the sides last clashed in Lombardy last October. It took a last minute try from Allan Jacobsen, and a subsequent David Blair conversion, to edge the Scots to a single-point win.
Interim head coach Nick Scrivener has prepared his troops for a similarly tough battle come the weekend. He said: “Aironi are a direct sort of side who have the players and the systems to really hurt you if you let them play their own game.
“Our aim has to be to control possession and play the match on our terms. We know from the game in Italy that we’ll be up against a tenacious outfit who will fight to the very last, and I’ll be looking for the same sort of desire, impetus and execution from our guys that we saw against Ospreys.
“We carried well that night and our work at the breakdown was good, and the net result was that we didn’t have to do as much defending. When you’re on the back foot for significant periods, you’re much more likely to give away penalties or be opened up, and it all comes back to possession.
“If we look after the ball and play on the front foot, as well as tightening up the defence after some of the mistakes we made in Connacht, we’ll put ourselves in a position to claim another positive home result.”
The Edinburgh starting line-up for Friday’s match bears two changes from Galway. Roddy Grant, absent from the side of late after suffering a knee injury, returns at openside flanker at the expense of Scott Newlands.
Ben Cairns, who missed the trip to west Ireland because of a knee knock of his own, displaces Nick De Luca at outside centre on the back of a commanding performance against Ospreys.
On the bench, Edinburgh are bolstered by the presence of Stuart McInally, who has recovered from the hand injury he sustained in February, and the evergreen Chris Paterson.
Scrivener explained: “It was right and proper that Mossy [Paterson] had the chance to recharge his batteries after the RBS 6 Nations Championship, but he was always going to be involved in our last three games and it’s great to have him back.
“I’m delighted to also be naming Stuart. He’s a guy we have high hopes for, and even though the timing of his injury was unfortunate, there’s still time for him this season to bring his influence to bear.”
The Edinburgh squad today took time out from their pre-match preparations to oversee a series of skill challenges at the club’s Easter Camp. Some 100 youngsters have this week received coaching in decision-making and problem-solving while taking on board advice on the basic techniques of passing, tackling, running and support play.
Today’s session saw the Edinburgh players pass on a little of their expertise before signing autographs and posing for pictures with the children.
Scrivener confirmed: “It’s been great to see so many kids out there enjoying themselves this week, and getting to meet the players today was hopefully a nice reward for the hard work they’ve put in.
“It wasn’t all that long ago that our guys were in their shoes, and they’ll be the first to tell you that days like this can be a real inspiration for young people making their way in the game.”
Tickets (ANYGAME vouchers) for Edinburgh v Aironi are available via www.edinburghrugby.org, by calling 0131 346 5180 or by visiting the Murrayfield Ticket Centre (just off Roseburn Street) in person.
Book before 5pm on Thursday to receive £5 off the match-day adult price.
EDINBURGH TEAM TO PLAY AIRONI IN THE Magners League AT MURRAYFIELD ON FRIDAY 15 APRIL (KICK-OFF 7.50PM)
15 Jim Thompson
14 Simon Webster
13 Ben Cairns
12 James King
11 Tim Visser
10 Greig Laidlaw
9 Mike Blair
1 Kyle Traynor
2 Andrew Kelly (captain)
3 Geoff Cross
4 Scott MacLeod
5 Esteban Lozada
6 Fraser McKenzie
8 David Denton
7 Roddy Grant
16 Alun Walker
17 Lewis Niven
18 David Young
19 Steven Turnbull
20 Stuart McInally
21 Nick De Luca
22 Lee Jones
23 Chris Paterson
Not available due to injury: Alex Blair (back), Chris Bloomfield (ACL), Fraser Brown (neck), Struan Dewar (thigh), Jack Gilding (A/C), Phil Godman (knee), John Houston (knee), Gregor Hunter (groin), Alan MacDonald (shoulder), Ross Rennie (toe), Netani Talei (wrist)