Storylines: Benetton

Storylines: Benetton

Edinburgh Rugby will look to end a two-game slide this Sunday as Benetton visit the Scottish capital.

These are the storylines to look out for as we look ahead to the 3.15pm kick-off at BT Murrayfield:

Changes across the board

Head Coach Richard Cockerill makes six changes altogether for Sunday's showdown, with the alterations split evenly among the back-line and forward pack.

With Scotland retaining the services of Grant Gilchrist and Darcy Graham, in come Andrew Davidson (lock) and Jack Blain (wing), while a revamped half-back pairing of Charlie Shiel and Nathan Chamberlain get the nod for the crucial Conference B match-up.

Hooker Dave Cherry is released from Scotland's 6 Nations camp and will look to build on last weekend's try-scoring performance, with Luke Crosbie starting at blindside flanker having made his 50th appearance for the club a week ago.

Young Team

Edinburgh's starting half-back pairing of stand-off Nathan Chamberlain (20) and scrum-half Charlie Shiel (23) may only have a combined four years of experience in professional rugby, but that doesn't mean the duo aren't ready for the big stage.

Shiel now has 28 appearances for the club and has consistently showcased flashes of explosive attacking flair when called upon.

And while Chamberlain is relatively untested at senior level with six appearances altogether, the stand-off's performances for Scotland U20 - including a hat-trick in his last age-grade outing against Wales - will give the Edinburgh coaching staff confidence that the playmaker can make the step up on Sunday afternoon.

Chance to build momentum

The capital club may be on a two-game slide following home defeats to Munster and Scarlets, however with a win on Sunday afternoon, Edinburgh can put crucial points on the board and ignite momentum ahead of the final three fixtures of the 2020-21 regular season.

Richard Cockerill's side hit the road following Benetton and close out the campaign away to Connacht, Cardiff Blues and Dragons, needing to collect as many points as possible in the hunt for a top-three place in Conference B.

It's been a disjointed season for many reasons, with injuries and match postponements all contributing towards a feeling of 'what could have been' - however, with a win on Sunday, it could be jut the confidence Edinburgh need heading into the business end of the year.

Winless Benetton buoyed by recent results

The Italians may have lost all 12 fixtures so far this season - with their only win of 2020-21 coming away to Stade Francais in the Challenge Cup - but Benetton have been impressive in their last two outings, pushing Munster and Connacht to the final play of the game.

The Italians remain winless in the PRO14 this season but head to Scotland having won the past two meetings between the sides, although both of those were played in Treviso.

Their last away victory over Edinburgh came at Myreside in September 2017 but you would have to go all the way back to October 2012 to find their only previous victory at BT Murrayfield. They only missed out by a point on their last visit to the home of Scottish rugby in September 2018, however.

Bennett hits 50

The man from Cumnock will make his 50th appearance for Edinburgh Rugby if called upon from the bench this Sunday.

The Scotland internationalist may have had an injury-hit first two campaigns in the Scottish capital, but has been one of the club's most consistent performer since returning to full fitness.

Bennett made 18 appearances in 2019-20, with this Sunday being his 12th match of 2020-21 season - a campaign in which he's managed to cross the whitewash three times in all competitions.

The livewire centre grabbed a hat-trick in his last home outing against an Italian side (Zebre, September 2019). That could be big ask to repeat from the bench, but still count on Bennett to make an impact on his 50th appearance for the club.

Deep impact

Two subs - Mesu Kunavula (back-row) and Charlie Savala (stand-off) - are two notable replacements that will be hoping to make an impact this Sunday.

Fijian international Kunavula could feature for the first time since making his Test debut for Fiji at the same stadium in December - a match in which the back-row was a standout, try-scoring performer.

Meanwhile replacement stand-off Savala - who impressed in last month's 'A' match-up with Glasgow Warriors - could make his Edinburgh Rugby debut having made the move from Australian Rugby League side Sydney Roosters last October.

Born in Sydney, Savala qualifies for Scotland through his Ayr-born father, while his grandmother still lived in Ayr until moving to Australia this year.

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