Edinburgh Rugby: Dickinson eyes Munster 2006 rerun

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Alasdair Dickinson stands apart from the Edinburgh Rugby team which runs out at Thomond Park, Limerick, tomorrow in the Heineken Cup hoping to post a win over Munster that could be a gateway to the knock-out stages of the Amlin Challenge Cup.

Of the current personnel, only this 30-times capped Scotland prop has started a match in Munster that Edinburgh have gone on to win.

That was in 2006 during a first spell at Edinburgh and Dickinson was actually one of three try-scorers in a 21-10 success that day.

How Edinburgh would love a repeat of that scoreline and Dickinson, at least, knows that it is possible to storm the citadel of the two-times European champions, who are already through to the quarter final of the main Heineken Cup 
tournament, although they will be playing for a money-spinning home tie.

“It was certainly one of the very few occasions Edinburgh had won in Munster and because the standard is always close to Test match rugby it does give you a sense of belief,” said Dickinson. “Munster had a strong side out that day, 
including Ronan O’Gara, and it was a massive thing for us.

“I remember the sense of satisfaction it gave us afterwards to be sitting in Limerick, one of the great rugby towns, knowing we’d just won.”

There are several potential distractions tomorrow, including the need for a favour from Scarlets who, if they could get even a draw against Saracens, would spike the Englishmen’s chances of reaching the Amlin tournament at Edinburgh’s 
expense.

Then there is the impending start of the Six Nations Championship, which will see 11 Edinburgh players go into a training camp on Monday.

Dickinson is adamant the focus will not waver.

“First and foremost, we have to go and try and win the game. After that, what will be will be,” he said. “It will be nothing flashy and we realise it will be a fierce battle.

“We just go out and stick to what we have been doing in order to reach this stage.

“Firstly, we have to get our defence and set-piece right and by doing that we can get ourselves in the game. After that, we have nothing to lose.”

Mention of the set-piece recalls how Dickinson and Edinburgh’s front row rose to a challenge last week when defeating Perpignan to set up an Amlin qualification bid.

Early scrums saw penalties go against Edinburgh on former Heriot’s prop Dickinson’s side.

The ability to sort out problems on the hoof is now a feature of Edinburgh’s performances and Dickinson revealed: “Before the game the ref said their tighthead (opposing) prop couldn’t bind on my arm. He got away with it a couple of times in the first half and in the second half the ref seemed to change his mind. We got penalised cheaply, whereas the second half evened the score.

“Frustration stems from the fact that referees, who have a difficult job, sometimes view things differently even though there are set laws. Fortunately it didn’t have an impact on the result.”

For their last five matches, Edinburgh have selected only 20 separate players to start and this consistency is having an impact with Gloucester, Leinster and Perpignan defeated and only Glasgow getting the better of the Capital outfit.

“I wasn’t at Edinburgh last season [he signed from Sale during the summer] but I do know there is a lot more continuity,” said Dickinson.

“It has had an effect because you get to know the guys you are playing alongside.”

Meanwhile, Edinburgh coach Alan Solomons has welcomed individual recognition coming the way of his players – quite apart from the Six Nations squad call-ups.

This week winger Tom Brown was named in the “team of the week” chosen by respected French sports newspaper L’Equipe, while flanker Cornell du Preez’s 71 tackles are unprecedented in the entire tournament.

“That’s important. We’ve seen the side and individuals improve so it’s great to see players getting rewarded,” said Solomons, who insisted there was no contradiction in Scotland squad flanker Ross Rennie being loaned to Bristol whereas Roddy Grant, selected in his position by Edinburgh tomorrow, misses out on the chance of national honours.

“Ross is a very, very good player who has played a lot of international rugby. There is a subjective element. I have no problem with it,” said Solomons.