In-form Zebre head to Myreside in pursuit of history on Friday evening, looking for a third consecutive Guinness PRO14 victory at the expense of Edinburgh.
If any more incentive were needed for the Italian side, their head coach Michael Bradley coached Edinburgh from 2011 to 2013 and will want to make a point against his former employers.
What’s at stake?
Both sides lie fourth in their respective conferences following five rounds of matches but it is Zebre who head into the contest full of confidence after beating Southern Kings and Ulster over the past fortnight.
The Italian side have never won three in a row in the Championship but face an Edinburgh side currently on a three-match losing streak.
The Scots triumphed in new head coach Richard Cockerill’s first two Guinness PRO14 games at the helm but have suffered defeats to Treviso, Scarlets and Leinster in the three weeks since.
However, they return to home comforts on Friday and hold a six wins to four advantage in the head-to-head between the sides
Team news (Edinburgh):
Richard Cockerill has made five changes to the side that narrowly lost to Leinster at the RDS Arena a week ago.
The only alteration to an otherwise unchanged back-three sees Blair Kinghorn return to his familiar position of full-back, while at scrum-half Sam Hidalgo-Clyne drops to the bench and is replaced by Nathan Fowles.
In the front row, experienced tight-head WP Nel replaces Simon Berghan to pack down alongside Stuart McInally and Darryl Marfo.
Ben Toolis returns to first-team action after being rested last weekend and will once again partner Grant Gilchrist in the boiler room while club captain Magnus Bradbury comes back in at blindside flanker after missing the trip to Dublin.
Team news (Zebre):
Having impressively beat Ulster 27-23 last time out, Zebre coach Michael Bradley has largely kept faith with the same starting XV.
The only change comes on the wing, as Giovanbattista Venditti will make his second appearance of the season after coming in for Giulio Bisegni.
Venditti will line up on the opposite wing from Mattia Bellini, who scored his side’s second of three tries last weekend.
Edinburgh may have ended up on the wrong end of a 21-13 scoreline against Leinster at the RDS Arena last time out but head coach Cockerill is adamant there is plenty to build on from that display.
“We’ve chosen a side which we feel can compete against Zebre in every facet of the game,” he said.
“There are a number of guys who impressed last weekend against Leinster and we hope they can continue to help the side makes positive strides.
“As a squad, we know just how important tomorrow night’s fixture is, and with a win, we can put ourselves in a strong position.
“There are no easy games in this competition, but if we commit ourselves with the right intensity and desire, I’ve got every confidence that we can come away with a positive result.”
Key Battle: WP Nel vs Andrea Lovotti
The big boys will do battle in the front row at Myreside, and the outcome of that bruising contest could go a long way to determining the winner of the match.
Few men are as experienced as Edinburgh’s powerhouse tight-head WP Nel and weighing in at 120kg (almost 19st in old money), he is one of the strongest scrummagers in the northern hemisphere, as well as a dangerous ball carrier.
Having fully recovered from his own serious neck injury suffered earlier this year, the 31-year-old is back to being a pain in the neck for opposing loose-heads.
But Zebre’s no.1, Andrea Lovotti, can more than hold his own at scrum-time. Lovotti is a man on an upward trajectory after winning 16 international caps since his Azzurri debut in the 2016 Six Nations, and squaring off with wily old campaigner Nel will be a fascinating match-up.
Key Stat: The last seven meetings between the two sides have been edged by Zebre by four wins to three.
Did you know? Edinburgh have already lost at home to an Italian side this season having slipped up to Benetton at Myreside on 15 September – they have actually been defeated in three of their last four encounters with Italian teams.
Edinburgh: Blair Kinghorn; Dougie Fife, James Johnstone, Phil Burleigh, Tom Brown; Jason Tovey, Nathan Fowles; Darryl Marfo, Stuart McInally, WP Nel, Ben Toolis, Grant Gilchrist, Magnus Bradbury (capt), Jamie Ritchie, Cornell du Preez
Replacements: Ross Ford, Allan Dell, Simon Berghan, Anton Bresler, Luke Crosbie, Sam Hidalgo-Clyne, Duncan Weir, Robbie Fruean
Zebre: Matteo Minozzi; Mattia Bellini, Tommaso Boni, Tommaso Castello (capt), Giovanbattista Venditti; Carlo Canna, Marcello Violi; Andrea Lovotti, Oliviero Fabiani, Dario Chistolini, David Sisi, George Biagi, Giovanni Licata, Johan Meyer, Renato Giammarioli
Replacements: Luhandre Luus, Andrea De Marchi, Eduardo Bello, Leonard Krumow, Derick Minnie, Guglielmo Palazzani, Serafin Bordoli, Ciaran Gaffney
Match officials – Referee: Marius Mitrea (FIR, 72nd competition game). Assistant Referees: Andrea Piardi, Manuel Bottino (FIR). Citing Commissioner: John Kirk (SRU)
Duncan Weir kept his nerve and slotted a late penalty as Edinburgh Rugby returned to winning ways against in-form Zebre in a tense encounter at Myreside.
The Italians looked set for their third Guinness PRO14 win in a row when Marcello Violi scored a converted try and kicked a penalty.
That came after Stuart McInally scored a superb try for the Scottish side, but Zebre hit back to lead by two points in the closing stages.
However, Weir broke their hearts from the tee to secure Edinburgh’s first win in three games.
The two sides arrived at Myreside in contrasting form with Edinburgh losing their previous three and Zebre seeking three wins in a row.
Blair Kinghorn and captain Magnus Bradbury returned for the hosts, while Zebre made just one change with Giovanbattista Venditti drafted in.
But it was Edinburgh that made the better start with fly-half Jason Tovey kicking an early penalty to settle their nerves.
The pace and energy of Edinburgh’s backline was too much for Zebre to handle at times but the Italian side managed to hold firm.
And they notched the first try of the match shortly after as Johan Meyer darted down the left and bundled his way over in the corner.
The Italian side enjoyed a five-minute period where they controlled possession and territory, but Edinburgh hit back in style as hooker McInally showed a surprising turn of speed to dart in for a memorable try from 50 metres, giving the hosts a half-time lead.
Tovey extended that after the break with a penalty as Edinburgh continued to apply pressure before Dougie Fife went close to a memorable score as he broke from inside his own half before losing control.
And shortly after the home crowd became nervy again as Violi charged down a Nathan Fowles kick and dived over for a simple score.
That swung the momentum back towards the visitors and Violi booted over a penalty to give the away side a slender two-point lead.
Edinburgh regrouped as the match threatened to slip away and Weir calmly put them back ahead with a penalty.
That proved to be decisive and the hosts held on to win.
Guinness PRO14 Final 2018 Ticket Information: Fans can save up to 20% on selected tickets, and prices start at just €30 for adults and €5 for children, and be booked via www.ticketmaster.ie