Kinghorn returns as Savala makes first start
Wing Blair Kinghorn has returned from injury to start Edinburgh Rugby's decisive Conference B clash of capitals with Cardiff Blues at the Arms Park tomorrow (Monday 22 March, kick-off 8pm) – live on Premier Sports.
The Scotland cap is one of two changes to the back division where 20-year-old stand-off Charlie Savala will make his debut in place of Nathan Chamberlain, who failed this morning's pre-departure fitness test on an ankle injury sustained against Connacht last weekend.
Recently recruited loosehead prop Boan Venter and Fijian international back-row Mesu Kunavula are the remaining changes to the XV, replacing the injured Pierre Schoeman and Ally Miller, who was released from Scotland camp.
Miller moves to the bench where he is joined by Murray McCallum, who takes the place vacated by the promoted Venter.
Edinburgh travel to Wales seven points behind this weekend’s fourth-placed opponents, with two games in hand against Dragons and Benetton to follow tomorrow’s Round 16 match which will – for most – bring an end to the regular Guinness PRO14 season.
Scarlets home match against Connacht (which kicks off at the same time) will also be of interest to the capital clubs as they contest league position.
Edinburgh Rugby Head Coach, Richard Cockerill, said: “League fixtures at this time of the season start to take on a Cup Final feeling, with so much on the line for a number of teams. It’s knockout rugby for those in contention for European Champions Cup places.
“We’ve always said we’ll continue to fight hard for league position and we made good on that promise against Connacht in the 83rd minute. We’ll need to show that type of resolve, within an improved performance overall, against a good Cardiff side tomorrow night.
“We’ve a decent record in Wales lately but that will count for little when the whistle goes. I expect you’ll see two very determined sides out there on a quick synthetic track, which should make for a great contest."
Kinghorn is joined in the back-three by wing Eroni Sau and full-back and co-captain Damien Hoyland – another to be released by Scotland – who racked up an impressive 8.3km covering the back field in Edinburgh’s away win over Connacht in Galway last weekend.
James Johnstone and George Taylor return as centre partners once more alongside the young half-back duo of Charlie Shiel and Savala.
Lee-Roy Atalifo and co-captain Mike Willemse return to the front-row alongside Venter, while Andrew Davidson and Magnus Bradbury once again join forces in the second-row – the latter making good on his cameo from his traditional back-row role with a try in back-to-back weekends.
Reselected back-row forwards Viliame Mata (number 8) and Luke Crosbie join Kunavula in the back-row to complete the side.
Edinburgh Rugby team to play Cardiff Blues at the Arms Park in the Guinness PRO14
Monday 22 March (kick-off 8pm) – live on Premier Sports
16. Sam Kitchen (0)
17. Murray McCallum (60)
18. Angus Williams (1)
19. Jamie Hodgson (17)
20.Ally Miller (22)
21. Henry Pyrgos (46)
22. Jack Blain (10)
23. Mark Bennett (50)
Unavailable on Scotland duty (11): Simon Berghan, David Cherry, Grant Gilchrist, Darcy Graham, Nick Haining, Willem Nel, Jamie Ritchie, Rory Sutherland, Duhan van der Merwe, Jaco van der Walt, Hamish Watson.
Unavailable through injury (10): Lewis Carmichael, Nathan Chamberlain, Jamie Farndale, Dan Gamble, Sam Grahamslaw, Stuart McInally, Fraser McKenzie, Dan Nutton, Pierre Schoeman, Ben Toolis.