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Solomons expects tough encounter

Edinburgh head coach Alan Solomons admits Newport Gwent Dragons are not the side he wants to face as the Gunners try to shake off their European heartache.

The Murrayfield side became the first Scottish team to appear in a major continental final last week as they went head to head with Gloucester for the European Challenge Cup.

But there was only disappointment waiting for Solomons' side at the Stoop in London as they crashed 19-13 to their English rivals.

Edinburgh will try to put a smile back on their supporters' faces on Friday as they take on their Welsh hosts at Rodney Parade.

But Solomons said: "Coming off the back of the European Challenge Cup final, especially with the Dragons having had a fixture-free week and playing at home at Rodney Parade - a notoriously difficult venue - this will be a tough encounter."

Solomons has made four changes to the starting line-up - with two enforced by injury and two rotational.

Jack Cuthbert takes over at full-back from Greig Tonks, who had a recurrence of a hamstring problem last Friday.

Due to back-row injuries, Stuart McInally moves up from the bench to start on the blindside and will also captain the team in the absence of injured skipper Mike Coman.

The other two changes come in the pack with Hamish Watson moving up from the bench to start at openside, while Fraser McKenzie makes his first start since the away match against Ospreys earlier in the season.

Wings Dougie Fife and Tim Visser retain their berths on the right and left wings respectively while Sam Beard and Andries Strauss remain as the centre duo. Maintaining their half-back pairing, meanwhile, are Phil Burleigh at stand-off and Sam Hidalgo-Clyne at scrum-half.

In the pack, the front row remains unchanged while Ben Toolis partners McKenzie at lock and Cornell du Preez keeps the number eight jersey.

Currently seventh in the league table, it is all to play for as Edinburgh strive for a top-six spot and qualification to the Champions' Cup competition next season.

At the moment, the capital club are one point behind sixth-placed Scarlets - who meet Cardiff at home this weekend - and five points behind fifth-placed Leinster. Connacht, in eighth spot, are four points below Edinburgh.

Given the significance of this fixture on European qualification a TMO will be in place, despite the fixture not being broadcast.


From Belfast Telegraph