Conference B’s mid-table is looking congested behind Leinster Rugby, but coming off the back of the impressive double over Glasgow Warriors, Edinburgh now get the chance to jump up into second. They take on an Isuzu Southern Kings side who will no doubt have enjoyed a winter break and will pose a real threat having had plenty of time together in training.
What’s at stake? Edinburgh will bounce into their game at BT Murrayfield against the Kings (live on Premier Sports 1, SuperSport 1 & eir sport2, 19:35) knowing that if results go their way in Round 13 they could slingshot into second place behind Leinster. Richard Cockerill’s men struggled for consistency earlier in the campaign coming off the back of their first-ever Guinness PRO14 Final Series appearance last season. However, Scotland’s capital team have bounced back in the Guinness PRO14 and the Champions Cup and their back-to-back wins over Glasgow Warriors have set them up for a good 2019. The Kings are playing their first game since their winter break and an away win in the Guinness PRO14 still remains elusive for Deon Davids’ team.
Team news (Edinburgh): Head coach Richard Cockerill has made 11 changes to the side that recorded a hard-earned victory over Glasgow at Scotstoun last weekend to retain the 1872 Cup. In the back three, Dougie Fife returns to action at full-back and is partnered on the wings by Darcy Graham and Duhan van der Merwe. Fosroc Scottish Rugby Academy graduate George Taylor is named in the centre alongside Argentine international Juan Pablo Socino, whilst Simon Hickey is partnered at half-back by scrum-half Nathan Fowles.
Team news (Isuzu Southern Kings): The Kings forwards will have a front row that will start together for the first time as former Junior Springbok loosehead prop Alulutho Tshakweni gets his first starting berth alongside tighthead Pieter Scholtz and hooker Alandre van Rooyen, who returns to the team after missing out of action in the Kings’ last match of 2018 with a concussion. In the backline, Masixole Banda returns to full-back after playing at fly-half against Benetton, with Martin du Toit returning to No.10. The centre pairing will see Harlon Klaasen once again partnering with Tertius Kruger while wing Michael Makase also finds himself back in the starting XV for the Edinburgh clash.
What they said: Ahead of the fixture Edinburgh head coach Cockerill commented: “We have to keep battling away. Players have to front up, it’s simple as that. The settled part of our squad has been really good for us, especially on short turnarounds. There’s a long way to go. I want to be in Europe next year and we have to qualify for that. We have a lot to do. We want to be in the playoffs again.”
Kings head coach Davids commented: “We have a lot to prove. We just have to keep our feet on the ground and continue to work hard. We have been fortunate to be able to select a strong side for this match and have maintained some consistency in our selection.”
Key battle: Duhan van der Merwe v Michael Makase: If the Kings are going to pull off a result in Edinburgh then they are going to need to stop one of the most dangerous players in the Guinness PRO14 – Duhan van der Merwe. The 23-year-old South African has three tries in his last four appearances and has the underlying statistics to indicate he’ll get plenty more – van der Merwe leads the way in the Guinness PRO14 in terms of both defenders beaten (40) and clean breaks (16).
Edinburgh: 15. Dougie Fife, 14. Darcy Graham, 13. George Taylor, 12. Juan Pablo Socino, 11. Duhan van der Merwe, 10. Simon Hickey, 9. Nathan Fowles, 1. Rory Sutherland, 2. David Cherry, 3. Simon Berghan, 4. Fraser McKenzie, 5. Callum Hunter-Hill, 6. Jamie Ritchie, 7. Luke Crosbie, 8. Viliame Mata
Replacements: 16. Ross Ford, 17. Pierre Schoeman, 18. Pietro Ceccarelli, 19. Ben Toolis, 20. Ally Miller, 21. Charlie Shiel, 22. Jaco van der Walt, 23. James Johnstone
Southern Kings: 15. Masixole Banda, 14. Michael Makase, 13. Harlon Klaasen, 12. Tertius Kruger, 11. Yaw Penxe, 10. Martin Du Toit, 9. Stefan Ungerer, 1. Alulutho Tshakweni, 2. Alandre Van Rooyen, 3. Pieter Scholtz, 4. Stephan Greeff, 5. John-Charles Astle (c), 6. Cyril-John Velleman, 7. Martinus Burger, 8. Ruaan Lerm
Replacements: 16. Michael Willemse, 17. Nicolaas Oosthuizen, 18. Luvuyo Pupuma, 19. Lubabalo Mtyanda, 20. Andries van Schalkwyk, 21. Sarel Pretorius, 22. Berton Klaasen, 23. Ntabeni Dukisa
Key stat: Edinburgh have won their last four matches in all tournaments since going down to Munster in Round 10 of the Guinness PRO14 at the end of November.
Did you know? Edinburgh’s only defeat to a South African opponent in the Guinness PRO14 was against the Toyota Cheetahs in Bloemfontein in November 2017.
TV: Live on Premier Sports 1, SuperSport 1 & eir sport 2
Referee: John Lacey (IRFU)
Assistant Referees: Johnny Erskine (IRFU) and Hollie Davidson (SRU)
TMO: Andrew McMenemy (SRU)
An early Darcy Graham double helped Edinburgh Rugby to a resounding 38-0 victory over the Isuzu Southern Kings.
Graham scored a try in each corner after Dougie Fife opened the scoring to put Edinburgh three tries up in the first ten minutes.
The Kings had a mountain to climb and were able to stem the flow for a large part of the first half but Edinburgh’s formidable home form never really looked under threat.
Edinburgh raced into an early lead as Duhan van der Merwe laid the ball off for Fife to put the first points on the board followed up by a successful conversion from Simon Hickey.
Moments later the Scotsmen had two tries up as another sweeping backline attack was finished off by Graham in the corner. Hickey again adding the extras.
And the Kings’ misery was trebled after Edinburgh added a third try in the opening ten minutes.
Graham was the scorer again benefiting from patient build-up play from the backline to cross in the opposite corner and put Edinburgh fully in control of the game. Hickey’s conversion attempt dropped short this time.
The Kings, who had not taken to the pitch since their defeat to Benetton at the beginning of December, were able to stem the flow and denied Edinburgh any further scores for the next 30 minutes of rugby and the scoreline remained 19-0 right up until the clock ticked into the red.
Edinburgh ended a productive half in the same the way they started it as Rory Sutherland added a fourth try and the bonus point with the Kings unable to find any form of response by way of points.
Five minutes after the restart Edinburgh had their fifth try of the match as Simon Berghan notched his first try for the club barging his way over the line. Hickey missed his second conversion of the afternoon to keep the score at 31-0.
Cameron Fenton was called onto the bench after David Cherry picked up an injury in the warm-up and made a try-scoring impact when he came onto the field with ten minutes to play, scoring Edinburgh’s sixth. Hickey converted the resulting conversion to make it 38-0.