Edinburgh face the ultimate challenge
April 6, 2012
Edinburgh had plenty to celebrate during the Pool stages © Getty Images
Edinburgh are expecting a bumper crowd at Murrayfield on Saturday, where they take on mighty Toulouse in the Heineken Cup quarter-finals.
Michael Bradley's side thrilled on their way to topping Pool 2 ahead of the Cardiff Blues and they will attack Toulouse without trepidation, having done so throughout the campaign.
The French giants stumbled through the group stages, winning Pool 6 despite losses to Harlequins and Gloucester, but their domestic form so far this season has been imperious. A quick glance at the Top 14 table - where Toulouse are four points clear at the summit - will tell Bradley all he needs to know about the task at hand.
Edinburgh - Player to Watch: Netani Talei has been the ball-carrying heart and soul of this side all season and will need to be at his combative best against a Toulouse team scenting yet another Heineken Cup semi-final.
Edinburgh - Team News: Talei replaces Stuart McInally at the base of the scrum in the only change from last weekend's win over the Scarlets, with David Denton at blindside. Skipper Greig Laidlaw is at 10, with Mike Blair at scrum-half.
Toulouse - Player to Watch: Lionel Beauxis will control the tempo for Toulouse, and visiting fans will hope that he shows more invention than during the Six Nations, where he marshalled a conservative France side.
Toulouse - Team News: With injuries limiting their options, Toulouse have been forced to field centre Yannick Jauzion at fullback. Luke Burgess returns from injury to start alongside Beauxis at halfback while the pack is typically strong. Thierry Dusautoir, Louis Picamoles and Jean Bouilhou are the back-row, which will prove a severe test for the hosts.
Key Battle: Talei and Denton will need to provide Edinburgh with a platform from which to launch their attacking style. If they are stopped dead, then Toulouse will have the game by the scruff of the neck.
Trivia: The Isle of Mull will play McLaren in the shadow of Murrayfield four hours before the game, having been granted permission to play their West Division 3 match outside the national stadium so as not to miss Edinburgh's historic game.
Stats: Edinburgh will be playing only their second Heineken Cup quarter-final, compared to Toulouse's 14th.
"The size and profile of this game is a new experience for supporters and the rugby community in Scotland. It's really captured the imagination where everyone is taking great pride in backing a Scottish team on a grand stage of European rugby." - Edinburgh coach Michael Bradley.
"I am afraid of Edinburgh's will power, their determination to stay in the tournament after their impressive performances in the Pool stage when they only suffered one defeat." - Toulouse boss Guy Noves.
Prediction: Edinburgh have been one of the tournament's delights this season but their journey is set to end here. Toulouse to nick a close one.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
The latest Week in Pictures takes in a fiery East Midlands derby and all the action from the Aviva Premiership and Top 14
The rolling maul is becoming an increasingly potent attacking weapon. Conor O'Shea looks at the difficulties of stopping it
The news of James Horwill, Adam Ashley-Cooper and Dan Carter's respective transfers will open the floodgates, writes Tom Hamilton