Storylines: Connacht

Storylines: Connacht

Edinburgh Rugby host Connacht in Round 13 of the United Rugby Championship (Friday 4 March, kick-off 7.35pm) - live on Premier Sports.

These are the storylines to look out for as the capital club look to return to winning ways.

Raise the bat, Chez

Hometown hero Dave Cherry will be making his 50th appearance for Edinburgh Rugby tonight, and will lead the side out as vice-captain. The 31-year-old Edinburgh native joined the club from Stade Niçois in 2018 and has become a mainstay at the capital club.

Impressive club form saw Cherry earn international honours in 2021, with the hooker making his Scotland debut in the famous Calcutta Cup victory over England at Twickenham in last season’s Guinness Six Nations.

The 50th appearance is a special moment for any player, and Cherry plans on enjoying it tonight:

“It’s too easy to not enjoy moments in your career, I’ve learned that as I’ve got older, you’re in it for such a small moment of time, so I’ll certainly enjoy it tonight.”

Young guns

Mike Blair could call upon two academy prospects tonight, in the shape of lock Jamie Campbell and back-row Rudi Brown.

Campbell joined the Edinburgh Rugby academy ahead of the 2021/22 season. A product of the Kelvinside Academy (where Richie Gray, Scott Cummings and Andrew Davidson started their careers), the lock played much of his early rugby playing for Biggar RFC.

Campbell has been capped for Scotland U20s and is currently playing in partnership for FOSROC Super6 side Heriot's.

Rudi Brown has very recent experience of playing at DAM Health Stadium, having featured for Scotland U20 against France last week. Brown first started his rugby career when he played for Melrose RFC at five years old.

Whilst he attends Merchiston Castle School, he is currently part of the Edinburgh Rugby academy, playing in partnership with FOSROC Super6 side Watsonians.

Home comforts…?

‘Home advantage’ usually plays a big part in results, with home crowd and familiar surroundings often helping the team playing on their own turf to claim victory.

Last season, though, saw the opposite in this fixture, with the away side winning on both occasions that Edinburgh faced Connacht. An Alex Wootton brace inspired Connacht to a 37-26 victory at BT Murrayfield, with Edinburgh claiming a dramatic win at the Sportsground, thanks to a last second try and conversion from Nathan Chamberlain.

Close encounter

Stats don’t always tell the whole story, often far from it, however tonight the stats couldn’t be closer. Edinburgh sit in fifth place in the United Rugby Championship standings, with Connacht closely following in sixth.

League standings isn’t the only area that the teams are closely matches. Edinburgh’s attack is the second most potent in the league, Connacht’s is third. Edinburgh’s scrum is joint second, Connacht’s is fourth. Connacht have 83 turnovers, which is just seven shy of Edinburgh’s total.

If the stats are anything to go by, it should be a tight clash tonight.

A break in the road

Edinburgh have faced a tough run of away fixtures, with a trip to south wales before back-to-back Irish away trips. Tonight’s home match breaks the list of matches on the road, however it is a brief respite.

After tonight’s match, Edinburgh face another trio of away games, first the small matter of the first leg of the 1872 Cup, before a trip to South Africa to face Cell C Sharks and Emirates Lions.

Edinburgh’s next home match is against Pau in April, where a win will see the side secure home advantage in the Challenge Cup Round of 16.

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