Edinburgh head into their final home game of the Magners League season against Dragons on Friday night (kick-off 7.30pm) looking to secure a third straight Murrayfield triumph.
The capital club have seen off Ospreys and Aironi in the last two matches to be played at the national stadium, and have the added incentive of seeking to gain revenge for the defeat they suffered at Rodney Parade back on February 12.
That match was Nick Scrivener’s first in charge, and the interim head coach is determined to give the Edinburgh support another performance and result to be proud of before heading back to Australia at the end of the campaign.
He said: “It’s vitally important that we build on the many good things we saw against Aironi, both to finish the season as strongly as possible and to make sure our fans have something to celebrate come Friday night.
“We’ve had our ups and downs on the field across the season, but they’ve always given us great support. The best way for the team to repay that is to keep coming up with wins."
Scrivener’s starting line-up for the game shows four personnel changes from the victory over Aironi, with all of the switches injury-related. Roddy Grant (knee) Fraser McKenzie (shoulder) are both unavailable, so Ross Rennie and Stuart McInally return at openside and blindside respectively.
Neither of Friday’s flankers has started a match since February, with Rennie having been out with a foot complaint and McInally with a hand injury.
Behind the scrum, shoulder injuries see Ben Cairns and James King miss out, and so Nick De Luca starts at inside centre with Jim Thompson moving to 13. Chris Paterson is offered the chance to reprise last week’s try-scoring heroics from the off at full-back.
Scrivener confirmed: “We’ve had to shuffle our pack a bit with Roddy, Fraz, Ben and James being unavailable, but the quality of player coming in means we’re more than happy with the team we’ll be sending out on Friday night.
“Ross and Stuart have been chomping at the bit to get back on the rugby field, and I’m sure that desire and energy will shine through in the way that they perform.
“We’ll once again need everyone to be right at the top of their game, because Dragons will be going all out to force a repeat of what happened the last time we met.
“We got outdone up front that day, and our watchword this week has to be control. We need to control the pace of the game, control the physicality of the game and deal with the pressure Dragons will bring to bear at the set-piece and through their counter-rucking at the breakdown.
“The talent we have in the backs was there to see against Aironi, so it’s about giving those players a platform to achieve all that we know they can.”
One of Edinburgh’s backline big guns, Tim Visser, broke the record for the most individual tries in a Magners League season by crossing against the Italians.
The reigning Magners League Young Player of the Season and competition top scorer is once more leading the try charts, testament to the standards he has set and maintained in his second season as a professional.
Scrivener said: “Tim’s appetite for tries, and for improving as a player, make him a pleasure to work with. I’m delighted he’s committed his long-term future to the club by signing a new contract, and he’s still got a couple of games to add to his tally this season.”
Ticket’s for Edinburgh v Dragons 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 today to receive £5 off the match-day adult price.
2011/12 Edinburgh season tickets also go on sale today, with supporters set to get closer than ever before to the on-field action. With seating in the east stand and new pitchside standing areas, it’s going to be a whole new ball game for fans of the capital club.
EDINBURGH TEAM TO PLAY DRAGONS IN THE Magners League AT MURRAYFIELD ON FRIDAY 22 APRIL (KICK-OFF 7.30PM)
15 Chris Paterson
14 Simon Webster
13 Jim Thompson
12 Nick De Luca
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 Stuart McInally
7 Ross Rennie
8 David Denton
16 Alun Walker
17 Robin Hislop
18 Lewis Niven
19 Steven Turnbull
20 Scott Newlands
21 David Blair
22 Lee Jones
23 Tom Brown
Not available due to injury: Alex Blair (back), Chris Bloomfield (ACL), Fraser Brown (neck), Ben Cairns (shoulder), Struan Dewar (thigh), Jack Gilding (A/C), Phil Godman (knee), Roddy Grant (knee), John Houston (knee), Gregor Hunter (groin), James King (shoulder), Alan MacDonald (shoulder), Fraser McKenzie (shoulder), Mark Robertson (groin), Ross Samson (calf), Netani Talei (wrist)