Match Preview: Edinburgh Rugby vs. Ulster Rugby

Paul Marshall

Paul Marshall makes his 150th appearance for Ulster

A shorter break than last time, but the PRO12 is back!

The stop-start nature of the PRO12 is a little frustrating, but we’re now into a stretch of 16 consecutive weeks of rugby so we can have no more complaints about breaks! In the meantime, the citing commissioners are going crazy, England are contacting new coaches about a position that is not yet vacant and Ireland are getting ready to have a crack at going further than the World Cup quarter finals.

Say what you want, the world of rugby is never boring.

Here in Belfast, we’re back to action after a week off and we’re getting ready to take the Stena Line across the Irish Sea to Cairnryan for one of our two annual trips to Scotland. Edinburgh are the opponents tomorrow night and we’re on the road again. But we got some good news during the week with Craig Gilroy renewing his contract for another two years so that will be an added boost going into the game.

We know that Edinburgh are in good form. They are one of just three sides (along with Munster and the Scarlets) to start the season with three wins from three, and they haven’t been walkovers either. Wins over Leinster and the Ospreys at home along with a tricky away victory in Italy over Treviso mean their start to the season is not one to be underestimated.

Three of their last four games at BT Murrayfield have gone their way too, and they already hold somewhat flimsy bragging rights this season as far as head-to-heads go – a 23-10 friendly victory back in August went our host’s way. Make of that what you will, but it’s very unlikely this will have any bearing on how the teams enter this weekend.

Meanwhile our away woes are well documented. On top of our disastrous performance away to the Scarlets in round two we have only won one away match in the PRO12 since last February (no, I’m not joking) away to Connacht back in April. That also means that our last five games have all been won by the home team.

Flip the stats round though and we see that Edinburgh haven’t beaten an Irish opponent at Murrayfield in their last five attempts (their win over Leinster on the opening weekend was at Meggetland), while we have won eight of our last nine meetings with Edinburgh in all tournaments with their 14-8 RaboDirect Pro12 win at Murrayfield in March 2013 the only exception.

We have to break our poor away form at some point, right? No better time than the present, and this would be an important away win against a team in form that would get our extended run of games off to a surprising but very welcome start. Time to get in gear and start picking up some points.

Leinster and the Ospreys have already fallen at this hurdle, let’s make sure we don’t do the same.

The teams

Just the three changes for Alan Solomons’ men with Nathan Fowles starting at scrum-half in place of Sean Kennedy as the only change in the backs. The front two rows of the scrum are also the same however in the back row captain Mike Coman is joined by two new faces in Hamish Watson and Nasi Manu. Former Ulsterman John Andress starts at tighthead prop.

Four changes for Neil Doak as we look to overturn our poor away form, as scrum-half Paul Marshall makes his 150th appearance for the province. Sam Arnold makes just his second start, replacing Luke Marshall at outside centre who is ruled out with a thumb injury. Callum Black returns to the starting line-up at loosehead prop, while Franco van der Merwe is back in the second row after being rested against Treviso. Nick Williams replaces the injured Robbie Diack in the back row after he missed the game against Treviso due to personal reasons.

 

Edinburgh Rugby vs. Ulster Rugby

Friday 16th October, 19:45

BT Murrayfield Stadium

Guinness PRO12 – Round 4

 

Live on Sky Sports

 

EDINBURGH RUGBY

15. Greig Tonks, 14. Tom Brown, 13. Chris Dean, 12. Andries Strauss, 11. Damien Hoyland, 10. Phil Burleigh, 9. Nathan Fowles; 1. Rory Sutherland, 2. Neil Cochrane, 3. John Andress, 4. Anton Bresler, 5. Fraser McKenzie, 6. Mike Coman (capt.), 7. Hamish Watson, 8. Nasi Manu.

Replacements: 16. George Turner, 17. Allan Dell, 18. Simon Berghan, 19. Alex Toolis, 20. Cornell du Preez, 21. Sean Kennedy, 22. Will Helu, 23. Jack Cuthbert.

ULSTER RUGBY

15. Louis Ludik, 14. Craig Gilroy, 13. Sam Arnold, 12. Stuart McCloskey, 11. Andrew Trimble, 10. Peter Nelson, 9. Paul Marshall; 1. Callum Black, 2. Rob Herring (capt.), 3. Wiehahn Herbst, 4. Dan Tuohy, 5. Franco van der Merwe, 6. Roger Wilson, 7. Sean Reidy, 8. Nick Williams.

Replacements: 16. John Andrew, 17. Andrew Warwick, 18. Bronson Ross, 19. Lewis Stevenson, 20. Willie Faloon, 21. David Shanahan, 22. Ian Humphreys, 23. Rory Scholes.

 

Referee: Dudley Phillips (IRFU, 52nd competition game)

Assistant Referees: Sam Grove-White, Mike Adamson (both SRU)

Citing Commissioner: Iain Goodall (SRU)

TMO: Iain Ramage (SRU)