Edinburgh Rugby must tighten up and nail chances

Jack Cuthbert rises above Duncan Weir on Boxing Day. Stevie Scott is pictured below
Jack Cuthbert rises above Duncan Weir on Boxing Day. Stevie Scott is pictured below
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Stevie Scott once scored a winning try against the Glasgow team he is now helping Edinburgh Rugby prepare to confront at Scotstoun tomorrow (kick off 6.05pm) in his capacity as forwards coach.

That was back in December 2003 but, with ex-Scotland hooker Scott part of a new coaching panel at Edinburgh this season headed by Alan Solomons, at least they don’t bring any baggage with them into the inter-city showdown.

“I think the only occasion I’ve been to Scotstoun was to watch seven-a-sides last Spring,” recalled Scott who is actually hoping that a fresh and particularly painful memory of last week’s 16-20 defeat by the same opponent will provoke a Capital backlash.

“That loss last week is the hardest of all to accept because of the way we had control,” insists Scott. “Looking back there’s huge respect for Glasgow. But we lost that game more than they won it.

“We had several opportunities that weren’t taken and that came back to haunt us.

“Jack (Cuthbert) dropped the ball in the corner; we gave away two or three silly penalties, and Greig (Laidlaw) missed a penalty that nine times out of ten he would have kicked.

“The driving maul was our lethal weapon, but we got away from that in second half.

“From the 58th minute we stopped doing it. We have to keep hammering away if things are going well, keep focusing on our strengths.

“We are learning on the hoof and sometimes the hard way but we are learning and things will keep on improving, I’m sure.”

Scott was also correct in highlighting the general work rate and the way a dominant scrummage yielded a succession of first-half penalties.

But some of the wounds were self-inflicted with coach Solomons pledging, first and foremost, to examine the way Glasgow introduced substitute Josh Strauss and were allowed to change the flow at the all-important breakdown area.

“We’ve been over the breakdowns, practised and reviewed the things we need to improve,” said Scott in also hinting that substitution policy may change.

Given that Edinburgh had been in action six days earlier and Glasgow had a weekend off due to a bad weather cancellation, it did same strange that it was the visitors to Murrayfield who emptied their bench on the way to their victory.

By contrast, Edinburgh used just two subs and had a cameo appearance from Mike Coman who, even in a five-minute stint as a blood sub, impressed in having leadership qualities, as shown when leading his New Zealand province to a Cup Final before arriving in Scotland.

“Alan (Solomons) has looked at substitutions and may look at it differently again.

“We’ll be checking the boys’ fatigue throughout and subs are something that will be getting discussed,” said Scott, who was unequivocal in his admiration for the way in which defence coach Omar Mouneimne is now ensuring Edinburgh are becoming harder to break down.

In the opening ten games of the season, Edinburgh conceded more than 20 points on seven occasions. In their last five games, that total has been exceeded just twice.

“It used to be that we had to score at least 20 points ourselves to win, but we have beaten Leinster and Gloucester by scoring 16 and 11 respectively.

“Our aim is to hold any opponent to no tries helped by the fact we are physically a lot better. Now, when the opportunities arise, we have to take them.”

Key is the winning edge provided by the South African contingent enhanced by the 
arrival of new stand off Carl Bezuidenhout. “I can see the near win-at-all-costs mentality from the South Africans and also the way they are getting that across to the others. There’s pent up frustration, definitely. Now the intention is to get out there and put right what went wrong at Murrayfield. Sure, we got a (losing) bonus point, but it was three league points lost.

“We had the winning of that match and a lot of things haven’t changed in a week.

“It’ll be a tight encounter again, I’m convinced, but we know what we have to do.”

First up come league points to start climbing the table and if the winning margin is more than four points then the 1872 Cup will be heading back to Murrayfield.

A steely determination exists in the Edinburgh camp and while a decade is a long time to go without an away win in the fixture, even more bizarre is the statistic that shows Glasgow have won all six league games away in 2013-14, while losing their last three at home in all tournaments!