Edinburgh’s Allen and Scott backed to take centre stage

Edinburgh celebrate Phil Burleigh's try against Glasgow. The stand-off has been hugely impressed by his centre duo. Pic: Ian Georgeson
Edinburgh celebrate Phil Burleigh's try against Glasgow. The stand-off has been hugely impressed by his centre duo. Pic: Ian Georgeson
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Edinburgh Rugby’s man-of-the-moment Phil Burleigh believes that Matt Scott and Michael Allen can go on to form a great centre partnership for the Capital club.

Stand-off Burleigh, 29, scored the winning try against Glasgow Warriors in the second leg of the 1872 Scottish Cup on Saturday and the Kiwi is keen for the team to really build from here.

Michael Allen has impressed at Edinburgh since joining from Ulster. Pic: SNS

Michael Allen has impressed at Edinburgh since joining from Ulster. Pic: SNS

Their next match is against winless Treviso at BT Murrayfield on Friday night as they look to stay in the top four in the Guinness PRO12.

And Burleigh feels that the centre partnership that Scotland cap Scott and Irishman Allen have struck up over the two matches against the Warriors can grow into something special.

“Everyone knows that our defence is pretty solid and we pride ourselves on that, but I think in recent weeks our attack has become sharper too,” Burleigh said.

“Matt and Michael have played a big part in that because they are both quality operators who communicate well, so it makes my job inside them as a stand-off a bit easier.

Matt Scott has struck up a fruitful partnership with Allen at centre. Pic: SNS

Matt Scott has struck up a fruitful partnership with Allen at centre. Pic: SNS

“They both run great lines and seem to find space when attacking, while defensively they both do a great job.

“Michael obviously had some injury problems after he joined in the summer, so hopefully he can now get a run of matches under his belt and he seems too link-up well with Matt.

“The way they are playing has also helped the wingers get involved in recent matches a bit more and I think there is real competition for places out wide now with Tom Brown, Damien Hoyland and Dougie Fife all doing well.

“Our aim now is to kick on from where we are and try and get some bonus points under our belts, as well as keeping up our pretty good European form going.”

In the final few minutes of Saturday’s match – with Edinburgh leading 14-11 in the “away” game at BT Murrayfield – Jonny Gray and his Glasgow team did everything but score the winning try.

That was down to Edinburgh’s dogged defence, a positive characteristic that has shaped their season so far.

“In the last three minutes of the second leg we had to defend for our lives and the Warriors went through a number of phases, but to keep them out shows all you need to know about the character in this squad,” Burleigh said.

“I think we still have a lot of improvement left in us and I guess that is a good thing.

“It is huge to win both games and retain the 1872 Scottish Cup. Last year was my first experience of the fixtures and we won one match and managed to lift the trophy on aggregate, but to win both matches is very special.

“As for my try in the second leg, well ... the boys did all the hard work to get up there and I was just lucky enough to be the one to finish it off.

“I knew we had a bit of space because quite often teams get sucked into the ruck when they are defending and that seemed to happen to the Warriors, so I just saw the line and went for it.”

After the celebrations following Saturday’s win, Burleigh and his team-mates were back in training yesterday and he knows that there are some big matches coming up in January before the Six Nations begins early next month.

He said: “There is still a long way to go in this season, but we are certainly heading in the right direction and we now have to focus on trying to put in a complete performance against Treviso on Friday because if we don’t back-up these two wins then that would be frustrating.

“We are taking things week by week, but I have belief that we can keep pushing for a top-four finish in the league and progress in Europe.”