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Last Updated: Sunday, 17 October, 2004, 12:23 GMT 13:23 UK
Edinburgh aim for European repeat
Edinburgh captain Todd Blackadder
The experienced Todd Blackadder will lead Edinburgh in Europe
Edinburgh became the first Scottish side to reach the quarter-finals of the Heineken Cup last season but they may find it tough to progress from a strong Pool 5 this time round.

Frank Hadden's side saved their best rugby for European competition last term, winning five of their six group games, including a very impressive home victory over eventual cup runners-up Toulouse - the team that knocked them out in the last eight.

And another good run saw Edinburgh narrowly beaten by Ulster in last year's inaugural Celtic Cup final.

But Edinburgh have started this season poorly, winning just two of their opening six Celtic League games.

And Perpignan, The Dragons and Newcastle Falcons will provide stern tests for the Scots.

Financial restrictions meant that Hadden was unable to strengthen his squad over the summer, with only Phil Godman and Fergus Pringle arriving from Newcastle and Hawick respectively.

But both of those players are set to spend the bulk of their time on the replacements bench.

Centre Ben MacDougall has recently been signed from the Rugby League code in Australia with a good reputation but he has yet to feature for his new side.

Hadden had hoped to land Simon Danielli on loan from Bath but the Scotland winger has joined The Borders.

Simon Taylor
Edinburgh will miss the powerful running of Simon Taylor
Edinburgh have also started the season without their best player - Simon Taylor.

The Lions number eight suffered knee ligament damage in March and is not due to return to action until December at the earliest.

Scotland skipper Scott Murray is currently out with a knee injury but hopes to be back in action for the Autumn Tests.

The loss of promising young international Tom Philip with the knee injury he sustained on the summer tour of Australia has also been a big blow.

Chris Paterson is a top quality performer who has been mainly used on the wing this season, although he can operate to good effect at full-back and as a stand-off.

And his accurate kicking will always keep the scoreboard ticking over.

Mike Blair has the makings of an excellent international scrum-half, while back-row Allister Hogg is another player with huge potential.

Todd Blackadder leads Edinburgh by example but the former All-Black captain has more than his fair share of grey hairs and fellow New Zealander Brendan Laney, who scored 141 points in 20 Scotland appearances, is also getting on a bit.

Edinburgh's Pool 5 opponents this season are all powerful sides but Hadden's men have shown they can raise their game in Europe and should be confident they can do it again.




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