URC: Benetton v Edinburgh: four changes for visitors ahead of must-win clash

Jake Henry, Chris Dean, Ali Price and Luke Crosbie added to starting XV

Luke Crosbie will make his 100th Edinburgh appearance against Benetton on Friday night. Image: © Craig Watson - www.craigwatson.co.uk
Luke Crosbie will make his 100th Edinburgh appearance against Benetton on Friday night. Image: © Craig Watson - www.craigwatson.co.uk

EDINBURGH head coach Sean Everitt has made one enforced and three selection changes to the starting XV he sent out against Munster a fortnight ago, ahead of tomorrow [Friday] evening’s must-win clash with Benetton at Stadio Monigo.

Qualification for the URC’s play-offs and next year’s Champions Cup is the reward for the winner of this final game of the regular season, while the loser could still make the play-offs theoretically but will have to rely on the Lions (away to the Stormers on Saturday lunchtime), Connacht (away to Leinster on Friday night) and Ospreys (away to Cardiff on Saturday evening) all slipping up.

There are various permutations to decide who finishes seventh (to qualify for the play-offs and Champions Cup) and who finishes eighth (to qualify for the play-offs), and bonus-points could become an important factor, which Edinburgh have struggled to accumulate this season.


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Edinburgh (who are currently seventh, ahead of Benetton on points difference) will certainly feel they have a score to settle against the Italians, after they coughed up three soft tries to blow to lose a game they really ought to have won when the two sides met at Hive Stadium in November. The meeting before that was also at Hive Stadium when Benetton played 50 minutes with 14 men and 20 minutes with just 13 men due to one red and two yellow cards for the visitors but still lost 24-17. And as Everitt pointed out earlier this week, Edinburgh haven’t won in Treviso since 2017.

Luke Crosbie comes into the capital line-up at openside flanker in place of the benched Hamish Watson for what will be his 100th appearance for the club, while the experienced Ali Price swaps in for co-captain Ben Vellacott at scrum-half.

Chris Dean starts at inside-centre for only the second time this season, linking up in midfield with Matt Currie, who has shifted to his preferred position of outside centre in place of the benched Mark Bennett after deputising on the wing in recent weeks.

Finally, yet another back-three injury, this time to Wes Goosen‘s foot, has been partially offset by the return of Jacob Henry to line-up on the right wing, but still leaves Edinburgh short of a front-line full-back, so James Lang deputises in the No 15 jersey.

“He’s a guy that has played 15 for Harlequins. He played fly-half for Harlequins [as well] so he’s used to and understands the backfield quite well because of that,” reasoned Everitt.

“We have prepared for this. When Cammy Scott has not been on the bench, Langers has covered 10 and 15 anyway. So, it’s not as though it’s going to be totally new to him.  If anything, it could add a different dimension to how we play.”“Luke reaching 100 appearances for Edinburgh Rugby is a fantastic achievement and it’s something he should be incredibly proud of,” Everitt added.

“He embodies everything we want in an Edinburgh Rugby player – hard work, determination, and a real passion for the jersey. He’s a leader on and off the field and he’s a huge part of what makes this squad tick.

“This is a cup final for us. We know what’s at stake and we’re treating it with the importance it deserves. It’s winner-takes-all for a play-off spot and the boys are focused on delivering a performance that gets us over the line.

“We’ve shown great character on the road this season and we’ll need every ounce of that again tomorrow afternoon in Treviso.”

 

Edinburgh (versus Benetton at Stadio Monigo on Saturday @ 1pm BST): J Lang; J Henry, M Currie, C Dean, D van der Merwe; B Healy, A Price; P Schoeman, E Ashman, W Nel, S Skinner, G Gilchrist ©, J Ritchie, L Crosbie, V Mata. Replacements: D Cherry, B Venter, J Sebastian, M Sykes, H Watson, B Vellacott, C Scott, C Dean.

Unavailable for selection: Emiliano Boffelli (back), Connor Boyle (back), Luan de Bruin (knee), Jamie Campbell (hand), Tom Dodd (bicep), Wes Goosen (foot), Darcy Graham (groin), Robin Hislop (knee), Mikey Jones (hamstring), Harry Paterson (quad), Scott Steele (hip), Nathan Sweeney (groin).


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About David Barnes 3989 Articles
David has worked as a freelance rugby journalist since 2004 covering every level of the game in Scotland for publications including The Herald/Sunday Herald, The Sunday Times, The Telegraph, The Scotsman/Scotland on Sunday/Evening News, The Daily Record, The Daily Mail/Mail on Sunday and The Sun.

6 Comments

  1. Oh my god, what an awful game. I have often defended Edinburgh, but that was absolute rubbish, absolute zero ability to get over the hairline with the whole season in the line.

    Changes required.

  2. Sti king with Healy and Price has been a tactical tour de force this season. Stevie Wonder could see they kill any back line. Still as long as GT is getting his pals indulged that’s all that really matters . ..

  3. Seems to be a team designed to batter them up front, plenty of powerful carries into contact and Healy kicking into position.
    Something no right about Edinburgh’s backs Price and Lang (at FB) interesting selections.

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