Ulster v Edinburgh: Richard Cockerill makes 3 changes to team for PRO14 clash

Richard Cockerill has made three changes to his team ahead of Edinburgh's trip to the Kingspan Stadium to take on Ulster on Friday night.

Thursday, 6th September 2018, 2:36 pm
Updated Thursday, 6th September 2018, 3:00 pm
Richard Cockerill knows his team need to step things up on the road - starting with tomorrow night's trip to Belfast. Picture: SNS Group

Duhan van der Merwe drops out altogether through injury, with club centurion Tom Brown - making his first competitive appearance in nearly a year - replacing him on the wing.

WP Neil comes in at tighthead while Hamish Watson - awaiting the birth of his child - is replaced in the back-row by Jamie Ritchie, who will make his 50th appearance for Cockerill’s side.

The head coach revealed his charges have worked hard on ball control and set-piece, adding: “We need to be better across the board, especially away from home.

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Tom Brown will make his first competitive appearance since November 2017. Picture: SNS Group

“We know that the Ulster crowd will be vocal and will be behind their team, so we need to control the game and field position, keeping that support as quiet as possible.”

Blair Kinghorn starts at fullback after getting on the scoresheet last weekend against Ospreys, and will be joined by Dougie Fife and Brown in the back-three.

Cockerill has opted for an unchanged centre pairing as Mark Bennett and Matt Scott are paired together in midfield, and the half-back partnership of summer arrivals Simon Hickey and Henry Pyrgos is also unchanged.

Club captain Stuart McInally packs down alongside Nel and recent South African acqusition Pierre Schoeman.

Grant Gilchrist and Ben Toolis start at lock while Ritchie, Luke Hamilton and Viliame Mata make up the back-row trio.

Edinburgh team to play Ulster

15. Blair Kinghorn, 14. Dougie Fife, 13. Mark Bennett, 12. Matt Scott, 11. Tom Brown, 10. Simon Hickey, 9. Henry Pyrgos, 1. Pierre Schoeman, 2. Stuart McInally, 3. WP Nel, 4. Ben Toolis, 5. Grant Gilchrist, 6. Luke Hamilton, 7. Jamie Ritchie, 8. Viliame Mata.

Replacements: 16. Ross Ford; 17. Allan Dell; 18. Murray McCallum; 19. Fraser McKenzie; 20. Luke Crosbie; 21. Sean Kennedy; 22. Jaco van der Walt; 23. James Johnstone.