Edinburgh crossing a line through Zebre loss

Neil Cochrane can't wait to grab his chance
Neil Cochrane can't wait to grab his chance
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Neil Cochrane pierced the gloom enveloping Edinburgh Rugby ahead of tomorrow’s home European Challenge Cup clash with London Welsh to highlight the fact the team are actually on the threshold of breaking new ground.

Edinburgh are on the point of starting a European pool with three wins for the first time in a decade, albeit in the second tier competition, and, by seeing off Aviva Premiership opponents, they will have gone undefeated in five successive home games for the first time since coach Alan Solomons took over in the summer of 2013.

In fact, the only blemish during this home campaign came early on against Connacht.

If those are not sufficient reasons to be upbeat, then there others according to Cochrane, who is poised to replace the injured Ross Ford at hooker tomorrow.

On a personal level, Cochrane can point to an estimated “80 per cent success rate” in meetings with London Welsh based on his time in the English Championship with Rotherham, Doncaster and Bedford.

Also, when it comes to what was previously known as the Amlin Challenge Cup, Cochrane turned out twice for London Wasps, helping beat Italian side Arix Viadana 90-17 and Bayonne, from France, 26-10.

If there is despondency surrounding Edinburgh, then it stems from going down at Zebre in the league last weekend in what was only the Italian’s second win of the season.

Many now feel it is a case of two steps forward and one back, but Cochrane insists it is futile to dwell on that while stressing the importance of learning lessons.

“We have momentum in Europe after beating Bordeaux-Begles and Lyon and extending that is what we have to concentrate on,” he said.

“Of course it would have been wrong just to have drawn a line in the sand following defeat at Zebre – and we didn’t.

“Instead, the squad got together collectively and identified problems that had to be addressed before focusing on London Welsh.”

Cochrane acknowledges that London Welsh, without a win this season, could arrive feeling they have nothing to lose and therefore be particularly dangerous.

“We have to be prepared for London Welsh viewing this fixture as an opportunity to kick-start their season, and we’ll give them the respect we give any opponent,” he said.

“But we have done our homework and I might have a bit more insight having faced them around a dozen times in my days in the English Championship, a league London Welsh did well to emerge from last season.

“They have a South Sea Island presence in the pack and the back three have plenty of pace.”

As well as being part of the coaching staff, 36-year-old Gordon Ross captains the side on a return to his former club.

“Gordon is more than capable of pulling the strings and he knows his way around the Murrayfield pitch. He’ll want to put on a show,” said Cochrane.

For Cochrane, it is also an opportunity he intends to seize after a move back to his home city was disrupted by injury.

“Psychologically it has been hard at times but I’m pleased to have stuck with it,” he said of knee cartilage and hamstring problems having last played for Wasps away back in November, 2013.

“So far I’ve only had a handful of minutes – 14 at Ospreys and 35 against Cardiff – in an Edinburgh jersey but that last outing was particularly important in helping provide more match sharpness.”

It was also a milestone moment for Cochrane, now 30 years old but a former Scotland Under-21 captain, in a notable victory over the Auld Enemy, England.

“Before the Cardiff game the last time I’d played on Murrayfield was in a match against Ireland Under-21s as part of the build up to world championships when they were held in Scotland,” he added.

“It was a feeling I’d like to get used to.”