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Friday, 14 December, 2018

La Rochelle unlikely to run riot at Murrayfield

Edinburgh have strong European home record

Cornell Du Preez runs through to add to his try tally for Edinburgh
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Challenge Cup quarter-final
Sky Sports 3, 8pm Friday

La Rochelle keep on proving that their charge to the top of the Top 14 table is no fluke and French sides tend to make an effort in Europe's secondary club competition once they have reached the knockout stages – Montpellier's triumph last May was France's seventh title.

But Edinburgh still warrant a wager with a start of five points in the first Challenge Cup quarter-final at Murrayfield.

Edinburgh, runners-up in 2015, have won their last 12 home matches in the competition and while they have lost their last six Pro12 games, their three home defeats across town at Myreside have all been by four points or fewer. Two of the three losses were to league high-flyers Munster and Ospreys.

In the pool stages this season, Edinburgh have beaten Harlequins and fellow quarter-finalists Stade Francais at Murrayfield. Their charge to the 2015 final at the Stoop was built on pool-stage victories over Lyon, London Welsh, Bordeaux and completed by a 45-16 semi-final success at Murrayfield over an in-form Dragons outfit.

As well as the call to arms to return to Murrayfield for a semi-final and then the final, Edinburgh skipper Ross Ford and lock Grant Gilchrist will surely have been telling the home team about how they felled the mighty Toulouse, against all the odds, at Murrayfield in the 2012 Heineken Cup quarter-finals.

Fellow international forwards Simon Berghan, Anton Bresler, Viliame Mata, Hamish Watson and Cornell du Preez are in good enough form to follow the lead and make their presence felt at the set-piece and breakdown.    

La Rochelle have won 11 matches in a row including five away games by six points or more, but they are in the last eight of the Challenge Cup for a first time since losing to Clermont in 2011 and the naming of All Blacks back-rower Victor Vito, Fijian powerhouse Jone Qovu and veteran Aussie fly-half Brock James on the bench suggests coach Patrice Collazo feels they may need a late push.

In the pool stages, the Privateers lost 35-14 at table-toppers Gloucester and won only 24-14 at already-eliminated Bayonne. 

Edinburgh +5
1pt 10-11 BoyleSports

In the pool stages this season, Edinburgh have beaten Harlequins and fellow quarter-finalists Stade Francais at Murrayfield
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