Edinburgh v Connacht: Richard Cockerill makes three changes to line-up

Richard Cockerill has made three changes to his Edinburgh line-up for the visit of Connacht as he looks to guide his side to a first win of the new Guinness PRO14 campaign.

Thursday, 13th September 2018, 7:08 pm
Updated Friday, 14th September 2018, 8:58 am
Edinburgh are put through their paces at Murrayfield ahead of the PRO14 clash with Connacht. Picture: SNS Group

Mark Bennett doesn’t make it after suffering a serious hamstring injury in the last match, and is replaced by James Johnstone in midfield while South African wing Duhan van der Merwe is restored to the starting line-up at the expense of Tom Brown.

Hamish Watson, who became a father for the first time last weekend and missed the game in Northern Ireland, slots into the back row with Luke Hamilton shuffled to Number 8 in place of the injured Viliame Mata.

Magnus Bradbury returns to the matchday squad while Argentinian summer signing Juan Pablo Socino could make his competitive debut for Edinburgh from the bench.

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The capital club have suffered defeats against Ospreys and Ulster in their opening two matches but the Edinburgh head coach is confident that a strong team spirit can help the team record that first win.

“We’ve had two losses from two games, but we’re in a good place. It doesn’t tell the whole story; there’s a great spirit in the camp,” Cockerill said.

“We just need to put in the same performance against Connacht as we did against Ulster, and we’ll be fine.”

However, Cockerill knows Edinburgh are in for a tough match with Connacht enjoying a decent start to the season.

“They just lost to Glasgow, but could have won it at the death, and they had a pretty big win against Zebre last weekend,” the Edinburgh head coach said.

“They’re playing some really good stuff. Andy Friend seems to have had a really big impact on them and they’re playing with the ball in hand.”

Cockerill is calling on the Edinburgh supporters to turn out in their numbers this weekend as they look to bounce back from a last-gasp 30-29 loss to Ulster at the Kingspan last time out.

He said: “It would be great to have a big crowd and get in front of our own supporters, so we’ve got to match their passion with a fine performance. That’s going to be really important for us.”

Edinburgh team to play Connacht

15. Blair Kinghorn, 14. Dougie Fife, 13. James Johnstone, 12. Matt Scott, 11. Duhan van der Merwe, 10. Simon Hickey, 9. Henry Pyrgos, 1. Pierre Schoeman, 2. Stuart McInally, 3. WP Nel, 4. Ben Toolis, 5. Grant Gilchrist, 6. Jamie Ritchie, 7. Hamish Watson, 8. Luke Hamilton

Replacements: 16. Ross Ford; 17. Allan Dell; 18. Simon Berghan; 19. Fraser McKenzie; 20. Magnus Bradbury; 21. Sean Kennedy; 22. Jaco van der Walt; 23. Juan Pablo Socino.