Cardiff Blues are looking for a return to winning ways on Monday as John Mulvihill’s side head for Murrayfield to take on Edinburgh in the Guinness Pro14, kick-off 7.45pm.
After two good wins over Zebre and Connacht in rounds one and two, the side have suffered two successive losses away at Munster and then home to Ulster, finishing both games with a feeling that more points could have been secured. Two Losing bonus points at Thomond Park and a win at Rodney Parade were certainly within reach.
Despite that Cardiff are still second in Conference B, with a win on Monday night extending the gap to fourth to five points, going into a home game against Benetton next week, with the Italian sides always weakened by call-ups during the international window.
We will be coming up against an Edinburgh side at Murrayfield that have had a tough start to the season, losing to the Ospreys, Munster and Connacht, before scraping past Scarlets in a 3-6 thriller in typical Llanelli weather last weekend to earn their first win of the campaign.
The trip should hold no fear for a team that have won on four of the last five visits to the Scottish capital, including that European Challenge Cup quarter-final triumph in 2018, and put in a strong performance the last time we headed north back in February when an injury hit and inexperienced side were competitive in a 14-6 defeat.
They go up against an Edinburgh team missing 23 players altogether, including 13 players called up to the Scotland squad, while fly-half Jaco van der Walt is unavailable due to heading back to South Africa for his own wedding.
Richard Cockerill makes seven changes to the side that beat Scarlets last weekend, with Scotland U20 fly-half Nathan Chamberlain in for van der Walt, while Eroni Sau returns on the wing after missing the last game due to the birth of his child.
Most of the changes come up front where Dave Cherry starts at hooker, Jamie Hodgson gets the nod at second row, and Luke Crosbie is in at flanker. There are two new faces too as Lee-Roy Atalifo starts at tighthead and Andries Ferreira makes his first start at lock.
There are two further debutants on the bench, this time Academy members, with Sam Grahamslaw covering the loosehead and Dan Gamble covering the tighthead.
Edinburgh: Jack Blain, Eroni Sau, Mark Bennett, Chris Dean, Jamie Farndale, Nathan Chamberlain, Henry Pyrgos (c); Pierre Schoeman, David Cherry, Lee-Roy Atalifo, Andries Ferreira, Jamie Hodgson, Magnus Bradbury, Luke Crosbie, Ally Miller
Replacements: Mike Willemse, Sam Grahamslaw, Dan Gamble, Marshall Sykes, Connor Boyle, Nic Groom, Charlie Shiel, James Johnstone
John Mulvihill is also forced into a number of changes ahead of the game, with six new faces introduced to the team that actually took the field against Ulster last week.
Brad Thyer and Corey Domachowski swap places at loosehead, Olly Robinson is in for the injured James Botham (shoulder) on the openside, Jason Tovey replaces the injured Jarrod Evans (leg) at fly-half, Max Llewellyn makes his first appearance of the season in place of Rey Lee-Lo (concussion) in the centre and Owen Lane is preferred to Matthew Morgan in the back three with Hallam Amos switching to full-back.
On the bench there is a recall for Sam Moore who covers the back row, while Ben Thomas could make his first appearance of the season covering fly-half and centre.
Cardiff Blues: Hallam Amos, Aled Summerhill, Garyn Smith, Max Llewellyn, Owen Lane, Jason Tovey, Lewis Jones; Brad Thyer, Kris Dacey (c), Dmitri Arhip, James Ratti, Rory Thornton, Josh Turnbull, Olly Robinson, Will Boyde
Replacements: Ethan Lewis, Corey Domachowski, Scott Andrews, Ben Murphy, Sam Moore, Jamie Hill, Ben Thomas, Matthew Morgan
After the two defeats in a row, Cardiff Blues really need to return to winning ways at Murrayfield. Three losses in a row is not play-off form, and this game is one that John Mulvihill’s men are more than capable of winning.
Edinburgh’s defence is vulnerable to variation around the fringe of the breakdown, as well as being hit wide at the right time, while their attack isn’t one that should cause us any problems considering our defensive performances so far this season. Discipline will be key though as the Scottish side’s driving maul is a dangerous weapon.
With the weather set fair it’s a chance for us to shake off the attacking shackles of last week and express ourselves with ball in hand. Get that clinical edge back and we have every chance of coming home with a big four points. Come on Cardiff!