Rob Lyttle has burst onto the scene for Ulster this season and the winger admits he would love nothing more than to help his side head into the Guinness PRO12 break with a win after a patchy run of form.
Lyttle makes his second-ever Guinness PRO12 start for Ulster – having scored in last week’s defeat to Munster – is a new addition to the starting backline alongside centre Sam Windsor and fly-half Brett Herron.
Pete Browne and Clive Ross join the pack for the crucial clash while academy player Aaron Cairns could make his senior debut after being named among the replacements
Since their stunning start to the season – winning five of five Guinness PRO12 games – Ulster have been pegged back following successive defeats to Connacht and Munster.
And 19-year-old Lyttle wants to park those losses to one side before the league takes a three-week break by beating Edinburgh at BT Murrayfield.
“The start of the season was great for me individually, and for the team, but sport is all about ups and downs,” said Lyttle.
“You just take your chance to sub or start and just enjoy it while it lasts.
“At the minute we are going through a frustrating period but we have a game coming up and a chance to put all that behind us.
“A big performance and a bonus-point win would do the team the world of good going into the break.”
All five of Edinburgh’s changes come in the pack – Neil Cochrane is named as captain and starts at hooker, with young props Jack Cosgrove and Murray McCallum set to join him in the front-row.
With Grant Gilchrist and John Hardie retained by the Scotland squad, Fraser McKenzie and Jamie Ritchie are named to start at lock and back-row respectively.
Scotland international Duncan Weir is named as a replacement after recovering from a fractured jaw sustained against Munster in round four, with newly-signed prop Kyle Whyte set to debut if called upon from the bench.
Edinburgh lost to Zebre last time out but acting head coach Duncan Hodge believes his side can rise to this week’s challenge.
“As a group we were very disappointed with the result and performance last week and we see tomorrow’s game as an opportunity to bounce back and make amends,” he said.
“We’ve taken the result on the chin, learned from the experience and worked hard in training to put things right ahead of this game.
“We know we’re facing a quality Ulster side packed with good players but we’re looking forward to running out in front of our home crowd and soaking up the challenge ahead.”
Overall Guinness PRO12 head to head record:
Played 27, Edinburgh won 9, Ulster won 18.
At BT Murrayfield, 7:35pm.
Live on BBC Alba & BBC NI
Referee: Andrew Brace (IRFU, 15th competition game)
Assistant Referees: Dudley Phillips (IRFU), Mike Adamson (SRU)
Citing Commissioner: John Kirk (SRU)
TMO: Gareth Simmonds (WRU)
A first-half blitz was enough to get Edinburgh back to winning ways in the Guinness PRO12 as they survived a late Ulster fightback to win 28-17 at BT Murrayfield.
Edinburgh had suffered defeat to Zebre in their previous Guinness PRO12 outing, but held a commanding 21-3 half-time lead in this game thanks to tries from Viliame Mata and Damien Hoyland.
The home side extended their lead shortly after the restart through Magnus Bradbury’s score and looked to be cruising to the win, only for their visitors to come roaring back.
Aaron Cairns scored Ulster’s first – two minutes into his senior debut – before fellow replacement Jason Stockdale dotted down, but Edinburgh held out for their third Guinness PRO12 victory of the campaign.
Edinburgh started the game with a bang and scored with their first attack as Sean Kennedy fed Mata and the Fijian burst through for the try, with Jason Tovey adding the extras for an early 7-0 home lead.
And things got even better for the hosts on nine minutes as some patient attacking saw Damien dot down from the ruck, although Tovey’s conversion fly just wide.
Blair Kinghorn then stretched the home side’s lead with a penalty from halfway on 16 minutes after Ulster were pinged at a ruck.
Ulster got a foothold in the game after 26 minutes thanks to a penalty from scrum-half Ruan Pienaar, but moments later Duncan Weir – who had replaced Tovey – replied with a three-pointer of his own.
Despite coming off the bench Weir had quickly found his range and added a second penalty five minutes before half-time, before Tovey returned to the fray and saw out the rest of the half as Edinburgh went in 21-3 to the good at the break.
And the home side started the second half as they did the first, with Kennedy and Michae Allen linkng up well to release Bradbury just three minutes after the restart, with Tovey converting.
On 54 minutes Ulster thought they had their first try of the game after Pienaar had kicked over the top for Charles Piutau to race onto, but it was ruled that the ball was not under control when grounded by the TMO.
But the visitors were celebrating on 67 minutes replacement Cairns pounced on Paul Marshall’s kick and scored within two minutes of coming off the bench for his senior Ulster debut, with Pienaar adding the extras.
And five minutes later the visiting fans were off their seats again as another replacement, Stockdale, burst through the middle for Ulster’s second try of the game, once again converting by Pienaar.
But that was as good as it got for the visitors, who were unable to add to the scoreline and have now lost three consecutive Guinness PRO12 matches.
Guinness PRO12 Final 2017 Ticket Information: Fans can save up to 20% on selected tickets, and prices start at just €30 adults and €5 child, and be booked via www.ticketmaster.ie. For further information visit http://www.pro12rugby.com/final
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