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Match Page 2017-18 - Scoreboard WP ID: 132

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Ospreys welcome back Sam Davies for Edinburgh clash

Guinness PRO14 Rugby Editor 2 Mar 2017
Sam Davies

Edinburgh Rugby host Ospreys at Myreside with kick-off at 7.35pm on Friday night as ninth hosts second in Round 17 of the Guinness PRO12.

The home side are still searching for their first league win of 2017 while Ospreys are looking for back-to-back wins over Scottish opposition after beating Glasgow Warriors last weekend.

What’s at stake? With a win, Ospreys can move above Leinster to the top of the Guinness PRO12 as the Irish province play on Saturday evening. Edinburgh can move clear of Newport Gwent Dragons as they look to reel in champions Connacht in eighth.

Edinbrugh Rugby Team News: Duncan Hodge has name three changes to his Edinburgh side to take on Ospreys after their Round 16 loss to Cardiff Blues.

Loosehead prop Alasdair Dickinson returns to make his first start since Edinburgh’s Boxing Day defeat to Glasgow Warriors while Grant Gilchrist returns and joins Ben Toolis, who makes his 22nd consecutive start, in the second row.

In the back line Duncan Weir, who was released from Scotland training camp this week, will pull the strings for Edinburgh at fly-half, resuming his half-back partnership with Sam Hidalgo-Clyne.

Double try-scorer against Cardiff Blues last week Rory Scholes continues on the wing and is joined by Damien Hoyland and Blair Kinghorn in the back three.

Ospreys Team News: Ospreys welcome fly-half Sam Davies back to their starting XV as he was released from the Wales squad for the RBS 6 Nations rest week.

Replacement prop Paul James will make his 150th appearance for the club if he comes off the bench putting him one ahead of Duncan Jones as the Ospreys’ leading appearance maker in the Guinness PRO12.

In the back three, the dangerous trio of Dan Evans, Dafydd Howells and last week’s try-scorer Keelan Giles continue while Tom Habberfield captains the Welsh side from scrum-half.

Talking points: Acting head coach Duncan Hodge lamented simple mistakes for his side’s loss to Cardiff Blues last time out and admitted his squad have worked tirelessly to rectify their errors ahead of their clash with Ospreys.

“As a group we were bitterly disappointed to score three tries and be in control of the match, only for basic errors and execution to cost us the game in the closing stages,” he said.

“The players have knuckled down and addressed their work-ons and we hope this week’s work will pay dividends come tomorrow.

“Ospreys are a quality side and travel to Myreside on a good run of form, but we have the belief in ourselves to come away with a result.”

Key battle: Duncan Weir v Sam Davies

Both fly-halves have been released from their respective RBS 6 Nations training camps and have an opportunity to stake a claim for a place in their national side ahead of round four of the Championship.

Weir and Davies both have in-form outside backs to call upon and will look to gain good field position to strike from.

Weir will bring direction to Edinburgh and his kicking from hand is set to be key as any loose efforts will give the dangerous Keelan Giles opportunities to attack a broken field defence.

Davies earned plaudits for his performances for Wales as a replacement and will hope to continue his good form in his club colours.

Key stat: Edinburgh’s only loss at home to Ospreys in their last nine matches was by a single point at BT Murrayfield in February 2012.

Did you know? Ospreys most recent defeat on the road came in early November when they lost 33-0 to Munster.

Edinburgh – Top points scorer: Duncan Weir 79pts Top try scorer: Magnus Bradbury 5

Ospreys – Top points scorer: Sam Davies 84pts Top try scorer: Dan Evans 5

Overall Guinness PRO12 head to head record: Played 27, Edinburgh won 10, Ospreys won 16, with 1 game drawn.

Edinburgh Rugby v Ospreys at Myreside
TV: BBC Alba and BBC Wales at 7.35pm
Referee: George Clancy (IRFU)
Assistant Referees: David Wilkinson (IRFU), Bob Nevins (SRU)
TMO: Kevin Beggs (IRFU)

Overall Guinness PRO12 head to head record:
Played 27, Edinburgh won 10, Ospreys won 16, with 1 game drawn.

At Myreside, 7.35pm Live on BBC ALBA and BBC WALES
Referee: George Clancy (IRFU, 88th competition game)
Assistant Referees: David Wilkinson (IRFU), Bob Nevins (SRU)
Citing Commissioner: Paul Minto (SRU)
TMO: Kevin Beggs (IRFU)

Match Page 2017-18 - Lineups WP: 135

Match Page 2017-18 - Lineups WP: 135

Match Page 2017-18 - Match Data WP: 140

Match Page 2017-18 - Timeline WP:139

Davies leads Ospreys back to the top of the table

Charlie Talbot-Smith 3 Mar 2017

Sam Davies returned to the Ospreys to inspire them to a hard-fought 13-9 Guinness PRO12 win over Edinburgh and move them back to the top of the standings.

Man of the match Davies produced the game’s moment of real magic in wet conditions at Myreside to create Josh Matavesi’s first-half try.

But it was their defence that won them this clash – holding off the hosts who could only manage three Duncan Weir penalties.

Davies kicked two penalties and the extras from Matavesi’s score and they have now only lost one of their last 16 first-team games in all competitions and will await the result of Leinster’s clash to see if they can stay top.

Ospreys have not lost on the road since November while for Edinburgh it was another narrow defeat to a Welsh opposition after last weekend’s disappointment against the Cardiff Blues.

Duncan Hodge’s side have now lost five in a row in the league but they had their chances on a wet and windy Friday night.

The hosts welcomed back Scotland prop Alasdair Dickinson for the first time since Boxing Day while fly-half Weir and lock Grant Gilchrist were both released from Scotland squad duty to start.

Ospreys named six Wales squad members in their 23 – including Davies at fly-half – and the No.10 was involved early and often in miserable conditions north of the border.

With the wind at their backs, the Welsh region kicked a lot in the opening stages, little rugby was on show before Weir’s penalty put the home side in front.

But the Welsh region responded immediately when a high tackle gave Davies a simple slot from in front and after the first quarter it was 3-3.

And then the first half’s one moment of magic arrived as Davies, a replacement for Wales in two of their last three clashes, dummied and skipped through the line before producing a deft back-hand offload to put Matavesi on the cut back under the posts.

It was a sumptuous score on a tough night for running rugby and with the extras the visitors were 10-3 to the good.

And that was how it stayed until the break, although Hodge’s side could and should have done more when Damien Hoyland appeared to have a straight line to the corner but cut back inside and the chance was lot on the verge of the interval.

The hosts started the second half on top, even turning down a kickable penalty to try and turn the screw but handling errors and fine Osprey defence – they have conceded the least points in the Guinness PRO12 – held firm.

The hour mark came and went and still it remained 10-3 –the hosts also losing the unfortunate Dickinson on his comeback game to a serious-looking ankle injury.

But still the hosts kept coming and another penalty was this time taken for goal and Weir slotted over to trim the lead to only four points just after the hour mark.

Davies provided an immediate response however, smashing over a long range effort of his own to open the lead out again to 13-6 with ten minutes left.

There was still time for late drama though on a pitch that held up well considering the weather but by the end was slippery to say the least.

Weir slotted his third penalty with eight minutes left to make it 13-9 and then a Hoyland break had them back on the front foot before an Anton Bresler knock on relieved the pressure.

And in the end the Ospreys – although they nearly made a hash of kicking the ball into touch in the end – held on for a narrow victory.

Guinness PRO12 Final 2017, 27th May, Aviva Stadium, Dublin.
Ticket Information: Fans can still avail of an exclusive number of €35 tickets. Book via www.ticketmaster.ie. Further information: www.pro12rugby.com/final

Match Page 2017-18 - Summary WP:137

Match Page 2017-18 - Match Data WP: 140

Match Page 2017-18 - Timeline WP:139

Match Page 2017-18 - Lineups WP: 135

Match Page 2017-18 - Performance WP:138