Rugby: Lawrie wants Edinburgh fans to build an atmosphere for Leinster clash

Steve LAWRIE is calling for Murrayfield to be a home-from-home for next visitors Leinster – so as to boost his Edinburgh team’s chances of claiming a vital Pro 12 league win on Friday week.

By The Newsroom
Wednesday, 19th October 2011, 12:49 pm

Having returned to the Capital this season following a two-year stint at Doncaster, hooker Lawrie has started all six games.

That contrasts with a single league start in his previous spell and the striking comparisons go on.

“When we beat Connacht the noise our crowd made was so loud we had to repeat line-out calls so as to be clear about what we wanted to do.

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“Normally that sort of thing only happens at places like Leinster – put it down to the fact we not only hit form but strides have been made off-field by having the bulk of supporters closer to the pitch in the East Stand, with others standing along the opposite touchline having a positive vocal effect, too.

“It’s night and day compared with when I left for Doncaster in terms of hearing our support.”

Clearly this extra encouragement is paying off for Lawrie, who timed a run superbly in the follow-up home win, over Munster, to post his first try for Edinburgh.

It had taken him 28 attempts, including 20 outings from the bench.

Typically for the Stewart’s/Melville-reared 27-year-old, who had stints with Currie and Watsonians, individual glory was of secondary importance to the result.

“It was my first try for Edinburgh and nice to get the dot-down. But I was more pleased with the performance of the side, especially after the disappointment of losing at Aironi a week earlier.

“I’m pleased both to be playing and with most of the contributions I have made. However, I would have preferred more wins as a squad, especially as we’ve been put ourselves in positions to do so.

“I’m all about winning and it’s just disappointing to have only two wins out of six. But if we beat Leinster and Treviso before the Heineken Cup break we’ll be in contention for a top-four play off place again.”

Lawrie is used to re-inventing himself as a rugby player and also breaking new ground.

In his amateur days he managed to recover from a leg fracture to help Watsonians claim the 2006 Scottish Cup.

And last season he had the rare distinction of representing Scotland A from out of the second-tier English Championship in a move that surely impressed Scottish Rugby Union bosses, who jumped at the chance to bring him home.

Colleagues have highlighted the input Lawrie, a PE graduate, has been able to provide based on his experiences south of the border but he has noticed keen differences in Edinburgh’s approach on and off the field.

“I’ve mentioned the noise and there are initiatives such as the kids’ camp that has been taking place this week as another advance. Playing personnel are similar but with Michael [Bradley] and Tom [Smith] it’s a fresher approach.

“Each coach has his own style and maybe there is more focus on the breakdown.”

On the approach to rucking, he says: “We do a lot of specialist work in smaller units, twos and threes. It’s not full smash. Rather, technically we are trying to makes sure the breakdown means cleaner possession for our scrum half.

“What we have noticed from this World Cup is that teams which win the breakdowns win the game. That was clear when New Zealand beat Australia last weekend; that’s why people were praising [Richie] McCaw.

“At Edinburgh we are looking at how teams slow down the breakdown. At Llanelli they did a job on us in that big area.

“As well as breakdowns we’ve noted the running lines of the All Blacks and how support runners changes their lines.”

If those aspects have been taken on board, Lawrie also pinpoints an area which has proved costly for Edinburgh.

“If our scrum had functioned better we could have won in Aironi,” he admits, adding: “Rugby union is decided by how a referee interprets sometimes. I’m not saying the ref got it wrong at Aironi. We were not the dominant scrum so he interpreted it like that.

“Getting a better platform away from home its crucial because a referee’s psyche is slightly different when you are the away team. He’s going to look at it in a slightly different way. So, you have to be dominant.”

In a reference to Eliota Fuimaono-Sapolu the Samoan who plays in the English Premiership and has been ordered to do rugby community service for verbally attacking a ref on Twitter at the World Cup, he stresses: “I’m not talking bias. I’m not having a moment like the guy from Gloucester.

“I’m just saying if a ref sees a team building momentum he is more likely to give penalties. But we have scrummed well against Connacht and Cardiff in the first game as well.

“We need to build consistency.”

With the World Cup ending Edinburgh prepare to welcome back their stars, including Lawrie’s fellow hooker, Ross Ford.

“From a competition point of view it has been fantastic having Andy Kelly and Alun Walker pressing me and now Fordy coming back means it doesn’t get easier.

“But to move Edinburgh forward all top teams have strength in depth in all positions.”