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Edinburgh v Cardiff Blues | Guinness Pro14 | Friday 28th February 2020

Form

Edinburgh: WLWWW

Cardiff Blues: LLWLW

Edinburgh are currently on a run of five wins in their last six games, all of which have come in the Guinness Pro14, as they push to the top of Conference B on the back of a comfortable 41-14 win over Connacht last week.

Cardiff Blues on the other hand are struggling for consistency, having not won back-to-back games in 2020. The win against Benetton got us back on the right track, but the trick is staying there.

Head-to-head

Cardiff Blues 11-19 Edinburgh – 05/10/2019

Edinburgh 17-19 Cardiff Blues – 23/02/2019

Edinburgh 6-20 Cardiff Blues – 31/03/2018

Cardiff Blues 10-20 Edinburgh – 01/09/2017

Edinburgh 17-18 Cardiff Blues – 24/02/2017

This has been a fixture in which the home team has not enjoyed much success over the last few years. Last season’s Cardiff Blues win at Murrayfield was particularly impressive as John Mulvihill’s men overturned a 17-0 half-time deficit to come back and win.

Team news

Edinburgh: Damien Hoyland, Eroni Sau, James Johnstone, George Taylor, Duhan van der Merwe, Simon Hickey, Charlie Shiel; Jamie Bhatti, Mike Willemse, Simon Berghan, Lewis Carmichael, Grant Gilchrist (c), Nick Haining, Luke Crosbie, Viliame Mata

Replacements: Cameron Fenton, Pierre Schoeman, Pietro Ceccarelli, Sam Thomson, John Barclay, Henry Pyrgos, Jaco van der Walt, Chris Dean

Richard Cockerill makes five changes to the Edinburgh team that beat Connacht last weekend with Scottish internationals Jamie Bhatti and Grant Gilchrist coming back into the team in the tight five.

The other changes come in the backs where Charlie Shiel makes his first start for the club at scrum-half, while George Taylor and James Johnstone form a new centre partnership.

Cardiff Blues: Hallam Amos, Jason Harries, Garyn Smith, Ben Thomas, Aled Summerhill, Jason Tovey, Lloyd Williams (c); Brad Thyer, Kris Dacey, Dmitri Arhip, Seb Davies, Rory Thornton, Shane Lewis-Hughes, Olly Robinson, Josh Turnbull

Replacements: Kirby Myhill, Corey Domachowski, Kieron Assiratti, Ben Murphy, Will Boyde, Lewis Jones, Max Llewellyn, Dan Fish

There are also five changes to Cardiff Blues made by John Mulvihill, with the majority coming in the tight five as Thyer, Dacey and Arhip form a new front row, while Thornton comes in at lock. The other change comes on the wing where Summerhill returns from injury.

On the bench there is a new replacement front row as Domachowski, Myhill and Assiratti prepare to make an impact, while Murphy could make his first Cardiff Blues appearance of the season as second row cover.

Player to watch

While there are a number of Scottish Six Nations squad members among their ranks, and Bill Mata had a breakthrough season last year, the player to watch in the Edinburgh squad at the moment can only be Duhan van der Merwe.

The winger has 11 tries in 15 games this season, including scoring in each of his last five games, and will present a real threat to Cardiff Blues on Friday night.

What the coaches said

“We need to make sure we’re on it. We should be well motivated since we’re on a good run, but we need to make sure we get all the basic things right.

“The weather will be a little bit better than last two weeks, but we need to be really functional and practical in how we play. We just need to go and win the game – do whatever it takes to win.

“I’m not fussy about our style. Substance, physicality and mentality should be 10 out of 10 for us, and we should go out with confidence to make sure we get our performance right.”

Edinburgh head coach Richard Cockerill

“We can take real confidence from our performance in the second half against Benetton as we travel up to Edinburgh. We were clinical in attack, solid in defence and we’ll need to maintain those standards for the full 80 minutes at Murrayfield.

“We’re fully aware of the challenges ahead against Edinburgh. They’re top of our table and have a lot of quality throughout, even with some big names missing through the Six Nations. They’re top of the table because of the depth they’ve built in that squad.

“We’ve got good form on the road this year, and that was something we spoke about before the season started. We need to pick up points on the road, and we’ve won up in Edinburgh before so we can take confidence from that.

“It’s great to have Aled back. He’s a really good player who gives us a spark and finish on the edge. He’s someone who can step up and keep some international boys out of the team because of his form. He’s a really good finisher, he’s quick, good on the high ball and defensively he’s one of our best.”

Cardiff Blues head coach John Mulvihill

The referee

Irishman George Clancy will have the whistle on Friday night, the most experienced official in the league as he takes charge of his 123rd Guinness Pro14 fixture, just over 15 years after his debut.

The 43-year-old has refereed 26 Cardiff Blues games in the league during that time, resulting in 10 wins and 16 losses. Just two of those wins have come away from home, with seven losses on the road in games officiated by Clancy.

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