Edinburgh v Saracens: three changes to home team for Champions Cup clash

Luke Crosbie, James Lang and Ben Vellacott return to starting line-up for final match of pool stage

Luke Crosbie
Luke Crosbie in action for Edinburgh against Zebre. Image: © Craig Watson. www.craigwatson.co.uk

LUKE CROSBIE, James Lang and Ben Vellacott all return to Edinburgh’s starting 15 for Sunday’s Champions Cup Pool A game against Saracens – the only changes from the side that began last week’s win at Castres. Flanker Crosbie and centre Lang had been out following head injuries, while scrum-half Vellacott is promoted from the bench. 

Henry Pyrgos is named in the replacements as back-up to Vellacott, and Charlie Shiel drops out of the 23 after starting the last two games. Lang takes over at inside centre from Cammy Hutchison, and Crosbie returns as part of a back-row shake-up that sees Sam Skinner move from blindside to lock, ousting Marshall Sykes.

With Emiliano Boffelli, Darcy Graham and Duhan van der Merwe all still unavailable, Blair Kinghorn continues on the wing, while Charlie Savala retains the No 10 jersey. Adam McBurney, Wes Goosen and Boan Venter return from injury and take their places on the bench.

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Thirteen players in all have been named by Edinburgh as unavailable: Boffelli, Graham, Van der Merwe, Luan de Bruin, Matt Currie, Chris Dean, Patrick Harrison, Damien Hoyland, Stuart McInally, Harry Paterson, Pierce Phillips, Hamish Watson and Angus Williams.

“Games like this are why we’re all involved in professional rugby,” Edinburgh coach Mike Blair said after announcing his team. “A massive European tie against English giants, a sold-out home crowd and the prospect of securing home advantage in the knockout stages.

“As I mentioned earlier in the week, it’s amazing the difference a win can make. Claiming all five points in Castres was a brilliant result for us and it’s acted as a catalyst for a really strong training week.

“A win like that focuses the mind a little bit more and there’s been a buzz around the squad as we prepare to take on a quality Saracens side who are full of confidence at the moment.

“To have a sold-out DAM Health Stadium behind us will be absolutely massive and I’m sure our supporters will back us from first minute to last, as they have done all season.”

Saracens have included Scotland caps Sean Maitland and Andy Christie in a starting line-up which is unchanged from last week’s win over Lyon. They also have the former Scotland Under-2o international Robin Hislop on the bench, but are still without the suspended England captain Owen Farrell.

Both teams have already qualified for the last 16 from the pool, but neither is yet guaranteed the top-four finish that is needed to earn a home draw in the next round. Saracens, currently third, need two points to stay in the top four; Edinburgh, fifth, probably require a bonus-point victory, though that position will be clearly by kick-off, as all the other games in the pool will have been played by then.

Edinburgh (v Saracens at the DAM Health Stadium, Sunday 5.30pm): H Immelman; J Blain, M Bennett, J Lang, B Kinghorn; C Savala, B Vellacott; P Schoeman, D Cherry, W Nel, S Skinner, G Gilchrist (co-captain), J Ritchie (co-captain), L Crosbie, V Mata. Substitutes: A McBurney, B Venter, L Atalifo, J Hodgson, N Haining, H Pyrgos, C Hutchison, W Goosen.

Saracens: E Daly; M Malins, A Lozowski, N Tompkins, S Maitland; A Goode, I van Zyl; Mako Vunipola, J George (captain), M Riccioni, M Itoje, H Tizard, A Christie, B Earl, W Vunipola. Substitutes: K Pifeleti, R Hislop, C Judge, N Isiekwe, T Dab, A Davies, Manu Vuinipola, A Lewington.

About Stuart Bathgate 1412 Articles
Stuart has been the rugby correspondent for both The Scotsman and The Herald, and was also The Scotsman’s chief sports writer for 14 years from 2000.


  1. Home Quarter final was lost by the infuriatingly scottish thing of failing to convert pressure within 5 yards of the line, Edinburgh could’ve won by 15.
    The Kinghorn missed touch was a seminal point in the game as was not going for the corner when had a numerical advantage.
    Good win but Boffelli VDM Graham Hutchison were missed badly.
    Could do with John Cooney being signed, Pygros is as slow as a week in the jail.
    Crosbie, Schoeman were superb, Scotland need this physicality v England

  2. Missing out on 3 world-class back 3 players is going to be what costs Edinburgh this game i fear sadly, surprised Goosen is not starting.


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