ALASDAIR DICKINSON believes the real test of any revival on the part of his Edinburgh Rugby team is just around the corner.
The Capital outfit stand on the brink of winning four in a row in all competitions for the first time since September, 2009, with 11 tries scored and just one conceded in those last three successful outings. But Dickinson, capped 39 times at prop by Scotland, is under no illusions about what lies ahead when visiting Glasgow at Scotstoun today (2.40pm) for a Guinness PRO12 clash that also carries the extra prize of the 1872 Cup played over the two legs of the fixture.
“It would be great to beat these rivals as Glasgow are sitting pretty near the top of the league and playing really well,” he said. “But we know we are going to have to lift our game against a hard-working and very down-to-earth opponent.
“It really would be great to win and take hold of the cup as well but we can’t look too far ahead.
“We just keep trying to prepare well and build on the performances of the last few weeks.”
It would be easy to think that scoring those 11 tries and keeping their own line intact are prime reasons for Edinburgh to travel with hope.
However, another statistic to warm the hearts of Edinburgh supporters was acknowledged by Dickinson.
“Last weekend [against Treviso] we gave away just three penalties in the entire match. That was incredible. One of our biggest faults has been giving away silly penalties at silly times or giving away possession at times. It is these little things that can turn the tide and make things a lot better for you.
“This type of discipline, along with set-piece work and defence, are fundamentals and all these things have to work together to get a good performance. It is just about slowly getting better; building confidence, having that work ethic and desire to win.”
Dickinson, who is in his second spell with Edinburgh, added: “I played in a few Gloucester-Bath derbies and wherever derbies are played they seem to ignite something and bring out the best in both teams. The crowd always seem to be more vocal as well.
“I’ve learned there is no magic formula to winning these games.
“We have to concentrate on getting better each week but the type of momentum we have is huge.
At the same time, we are not daft. We know London Welsh and Treviso have had really tough seasons so we are not getting ahead of ourselves.
“Everybody realises we have had a bit of an up-and-down season. The forwards need to play well as do the backs and try and put the good combinations together. We know Treviso have had a difficult season and, the week before, Northampton gave them a rough ride.
“Our next two games are against a team at the complete opposite end of the table. In a sense we are going into a lion’s den.”
What could hold the key even in a “lion’s den” is the way the respective coaches utilise their substitutes, and here Edinburgh have done particularly well recently, especially in the home clash with London Welsh.
“You realise you need fresh guys to come off the bench and add explosive parts to the game. Sometimes subs can change games,” added Dickinson. “In close games, or when games have been quick, physical, battles you need fresh legs to add another dimension.
“It’s always a difficult one having to come off but you are part of a 23-man squad.
“Teams have players these days who only go on the bench and can come on and do something special. If you have certain players who can spark something, really energise the team then that is a factor and it is up to the coaches to understand the loads of different reasons why games can be changed.
“That is part of the fine line that often separates teams in the pro era.”