Former Ulster trio set to do battle for Challenge Cup
Published 01/05/2015 | 02:30
Irish interest in European finals weekend has rarely been lower so fans in this part of the world will have to cling to tonight's Challenge Cup final to have a local edge.
The Twickenham Stoop clash pits a Gloucester side coached by David Humphreys and former Munster forwards coach Laurie Fisher up against an Edinburgh team led by ex-Ulster coach Alan Solomons and featuring the northern province's former prop John Andress on their bench.
Humphreys has conceded that the success or failure of his first term in charge of the Cherry and Whites will come down to whether his team can pick up silverware tonight.
He possesses the more star-studded of the two squads and will hope that the presence of Lions hooker Richard Hibbard and John Afoa in the front-row can establish dominance, allowing Greig Laidlaw and James Hook dictate the pace.
Edinburgh will have noted Connacht's ability to get on top of the English side during their quarter-final defeat at Kingsholm and will hope their direct-running style can unhinge the Gloucester defence.
The Scots are in fine form, but lack the calibre of top-level players available to Humphreys. Loose kicks will be happily pounced on by the dangerous Jonny May and Charlie Sharples and despite the presence of the hugely over-rated Billy Twelvetrees as captain, Gloucester should have enough.
Edinburgh - G Tonks; D Fife, S Beard, A Strauss, T Visser; P Burleigh, S Hidalgo-Clyne; A Dickinson, R Ford, WP Nel; A Bresler, B Toolis, M Coman (capt), R Grant, C Du Preez. Reps: S McInally, R Sutherland, J Andress, F McKenzie, H Watson, N Fowles, T Heathcote, T Brown .
Gloucester - C Sharples; J May, B Meakes, B Twelvetrees (capt), H Purdy; J Hook, G Laidlaw; N Wood, R Hibbard, J Afoa; T Savage, T Palmer; R Moriarty, M Kvesic, G Evans. Reps: D Dawiduik, Y Thomas, S Puafisi, Galarza, J Rowan, D Robson, B Burns, S McColl.
Ref - J Garces (France)
Edinburgh v Gloucester
Live, Sky Sports 1/BT Sport 2, 7.45