Two sides at opposite ends of Conference B go head to head on Friday night at BT Murrayfield when Edinburgh host the Dragons in Guinness PRO14 action.
What’s at stake?
Richard Cockerill’s side will be looking to bounce back from defeat away to the Southern Kings last time out, leaving them just one point clear of the Scarlets in the race for a top three finish. Prior to that, they had won seven in a row in all competitions.
The Dragons, meanwhile, were narrowly denied at home to Munster last time out and are still seeking their first away win of the season.
Team news (Edinburgh)
Scotland international back-row Magnus Bradbury returns from injury to feature for the first time in four months.
The four-times capped back-row is one of eight internationalists named in the starting XV as recent Scotland call-ups Darcy Graham, Chris Dean, Ben Toolis and Luke Crosbie are all released for the Guinness PRO14 encounter.
Henry Pyrgos captains the side which also sees winger and top try-scorer Duhan van der Merwe return to action after missing the match against Southern Kings in Port Elizabeth last month.
Team news (Dragons)
Centre Jarryd Sage and back row James Benjamin are called into the starting line-up .
Benjamin comes in at No.8 for the encounter, with Ollie Griffiths moving across the back row to play in the seven jersey.
Sage is named at centre alongside Tyler Morgan, as Dragons go into the game with six players away on international duty with Wales.
The only other change to the match day squad is a call-up for Gavin Henson who is named among the replacements.
Edinburgh head coach Richard Cockerill said: “The next block of matches are pivotal for us and we can’t afford to slip up. Everyone is extremely close at the top of Conference B, so we know the importance of this group of fixtures.
“It starts against Dragons tomorrow night. They are a tough, competitive side with plenty of attacking threats across the park. We’re determined to get back to winning ways and we’ll have to be at our best for the full 80 minutes tomorrow evening.”
Dragons backs Coach Barry Maddocks said: “It would be great to get that away win. Edinburgh have strengthened a lot so, even though they will have some players away with Scotland, they are a strong unit.
“We defended well at home when we faced Edinburgh in November and when we had opportunities in attack we took them.
“They will like to play with the ball in hand and like to play for long periods so we will have to be on our mettle.
“It is a fantastic venue and you have got to be excited to play in a stadium like BT Murrayfield. We know it is going to be a tough game, but the boys are looking forward to it and in good spirits as we return to the challenge of the Guinness PRO14.”
Jaco van der Walt v Josh Lewis
Jaco van der Walt is still yet to miss a kick at goal in the Guinness PRO14 this season.
The Edinburgh No.10 has made 18 from 18 in the league and his opposite man Josh Lewis will need to try and upset the South African’s rhythm if the Dragons are to have a chance.
Lewis’ own success rate from the tee is down below 75% but he is looking increasingly at home in the No.10 jersey for the Dragons.
Edinburgh have won their last eleven home games in all tournaments since Ulster beat them at BT Murrayfield in the Guinness PRO14 last April.
Did you know?
The Dragons are still without a win in Scotland in the league since 2013
Edinburgh: Dougie Fife, Darcy Graham, James Johnstone, Chris Dean, Duhan van der Merwe, Jaco van der Walt, Henry Pyrgos, Pierre Schoeman, Ross Ford, Pietro Ceccarelli, Fraser McKenzie, Ben Toolis, Magnus Bradbury, Luke Crosbie, Viliame Mata
Replacements: David Cherry, Rory Sutherland, Murray McCallum, Callum Hunter-Hill, Ally Miller, Nathan Fowles, Simon Hickey, Juan Pablo Socino
Dragons: Jordan Williams, Jared Rosser, Tyler Morgan, Jarryd Sage, Will Talbot-Davies, Josh Lewis, Rhodri Williams; Brok Harris, Richard Hibbard (c), Lloyd Fairbrother, Joe Davies, Matthew Screech, Harrison Keddie, Ollie Griffiths, James Benjamin
Replacements: Rhys Lawrence, Rhys Fawcett, Dan Suter, Lewis Evans, Taine Basham, Rhodri Davies, Gavin Henson, Zane Kirchner
Referee: Andrew Brace (IRFU)
Assistant Referees: Sam Grove-White (SRU), Paul Haycock (IRFU)
TMO: Neil Paterson (SRU)
Quickfire second-half scores from Magnus Bradbury and Duhan van der Merwe were enough to see Edinburgh Rugby home as they toppled the Dragons 34-17 at BT Murrayfield.
They had twice taken the lead in the first 40 through James Johnstone, but for Tyler Morgan to reply each time.
The visitors took a 17-14 advantage into the break, but were largely nullified by an impressive Edinburgh effort as they were held scoreless in the second 40, with van der Merwe adding Edinburgh’s fifth score late on.
Edinburgh were ahead with less than ten minutes on the clock: a well-worked lineout saw Bill Mata find Chris Dean whose line was perfect.
The centre was brought down at the 10m line, but for quick ball to be recycled out to Johnstone, who slipped through to cross the whitewash spectacularly.
Dragons were back on terms just three minutes later when pragmatic play from the Welsh side eventually forced an overlap for Morgan down the left, with the winger making no mistake to score in the corner.
The hosts re-took the lead from another set-piece straight off the training ground, this time from the scrum.
Pyrgos wasted no time in spreading play to Jaco van der Walt, whose pop-pass inside to Darcy Graham was exquisite, with Johnstone on-hand once again to put the finishing touches to the move.
Morgan wasn’t to be outdone, however, as he snaffled an intercept to level things under the posts.
A Josh Lewis penalty gave the visitors their first lead of the match and it was one that they carried into the break.
The Dragons were given a warning early in the second half when Graham found open grass ahead before chipping into the goal area and entering a lightning foot-race with Will Talbot-Davies, but it was the bounce of the ball that won out in the end as it dribbled agonisingly across the dead-ball line.
Van der Walt made it 17-17 with a penalty, keeping up his imperious 100% record from the tee in the Guinness PRO14, his 21st successful effort on the spin.
And the hosts went back in front once more, Bradbury driving over under the posts, with Pierre Schoeman hanging off his shoulder from the pick-and-go.
They were desperate not to repeat past mistakes, fighting to extend their lead and getting their reward when Van der Merwe wriggled and rolled through a couple of Dragons tackles to escape attentions and dot down.
Edinburgh took the sting out of things as they looked to keep hold of the ball with time running out, and van der Merwe added his second in the corner on the stroke of full-time to put a gloss to the scoreboard.