Edinburgh Rugby have been set a 12-win target to achieve season’s goal

Match against Ospreys can set capital club on their way as URC campaign enters crunch time

Sean Everitt is targeting five more wins in Edinburgh’s remaining eight league games and a home victory over the Ospreys on Friday night would put the capital club on the right track to achieving their goal.

Not that it will be easy. The Welsh side come north on the back of a run of three successive victories in the United Rugby Championship, against Scarlets, Cardiff and Ulster, and are a point behind Edinburgh in the standings after 10 rounds. Edinburgh are fifth, with seven wins and three defeats, and part of a tightly bunched group vying for the top eight and a place in the play-offs. Only four points separate fourth and tenth.

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“The way we’re working it out at the moment is that we’d need 12 wins,” said Everitt. “That’s something we said from the start – we wanted to win seven home games and five away and that would guarantee a top-eight slot. Looking at the permutations I believe that is right. Obviously it could be less, but you want to strive for the best possible.

“But at the same time it’s a home game for us and we want to perform well in front of our fans. They’ve been unbelievably good supporters of us this season: we’ve had sell-outs in four games here, we had a massive crowd at Murrayfield, and it’s a payback for the players to put on a good performance for the spectators that have taken time out to pay and come and watch this team.

“Our destiny is in our control, and if we continue to win like we have been doing - we’ve got seven out of ten - there’s no reason why we shouldn’t be in the top eight. But it starts this week, it’s a tough game against a team that’s on a high.”

It’s Edinburgh’s first home game in the league since they beat Glasgow at Murrayfield on December 30 but they returned to URC action a fortnight ago with a rather turgid win over Zebre in Parma. Everitt is looking for more zip against Ospreys and has made four changes for the match at the Hive. Centre Mark Bennett comes in in place of James Lang and will make his 100th appearance for the club; Ben Vellacott takes over at scrum-half from Ali Price; Sam Skinner replaces Marshall Sykes in the second row and Tom Dodd is selected in the back row as Jamie Ritchie takes a breather after helping Scotland win the Calcutta Cup.

Lang, Price and Sykes have been named among the replacements and joining them on the bench are Wes Goosen and Ben Muncaster, both returning from injury. With Darcy Graham out for the long term and Duhan van der Merwe away with Scotland, the availability of Goosen is particularly welcome although Everitt rightly praised the contribution of Harry Paterson who is enjoying a breakthrough season which included an international debut against France. Paterson will start on the right wing against Ospreys, with Chris Dean on the other side and Emiliano Boffelli at full-back.

Sam Skinner is back in the Edinburgh team for the URC match against the Ospreys at Hive Stadium.  (Photo by Mark Scates / SNS Group)Sam Skinner is back in the Edinburgh team for the URC match against the Ospreys at Hive Stadium.  (Photo by Mark Scates / SNS Group)
Sam Skinner is back in the Edinburgh team for the URC match against the Ospreys at Hive Stadium. (Photo by Mark Scates / SNS Group)

Luke Crosbie, crocked in Scotland’s Six Nations opener against Wales, is making good progress with his shoulder injury but is unlikely to be fit for Edinburgh’s two-match tour to South Africa in rounds 12 and 13 of the URC.

Edinburgh Rugby v Ospreys (URC, Hive Stadium, Friday, 7.35pm. TV: live on Viaplay)

Edinburgh: E Boffelli; H Paterson, M Bennett, M Currie, C Dean; B Healy, B Vellacott (capt); Boan Venter, D Cherry, WP Nel, S Skinner, G Young, T Dodd, H Watson, V Mata. Replacements: P Harrison, L de Bruin, J Sebastian, M Sykes, B Muncaster, A Price, J Lang, W Goosen.

Ospreys: J Walsh; A Cuthbert, E Boshoff, K Williams, K Giles; D Edwards, L Davies; N Smith, S Parry, T Botha, J Ratti, V Sekekete, H Deaves, J Tipuric (capt), J Rudolph. Replacements: L Lloyd, R Henry, B Warren, R Davies, M Morris, C Jones, O Williams, M Protheroe.

Referee: Chris Busby (IRFU).



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