With a quarter-final place in the European Challenge Cup all but assured, Edinburgh minds are already turning to the festive double header against Glasgow, with a palpable sense that they fancy their chances of reclaiming the 1872 Cup.
As the Warriors lick their wounds after a third straight loss in the elite Champions Cup, the Capital side steamrollered the English Premiership’s bottom team 50-20 to reach halfway in Pool 4 on maximum points and, with Russian minnows Krasny Yar to play in the Capital this week, Edinburgh are well on course for a home quarter-final.
There was talk of work still to be done and no room for complacency against the Russians but, following this eight-try rout of pretty unimpressive English opposition, the derby clashes are beginning to stir excitement.
Saturday’s game was switched to BT Murrayfield after Myreside was deemed unplayable in the morning and the national stadium will host the first of the inter-city matches on Saturday, December 23 with the return at Scotstoun a week later.
“We are under no illusions at the moment. It is still pretty early on in the season and we are building towards Glasgow and we want to beat them,” said centre Phil Burleigh, who scored two tries and made another two in what was a fine showing from Scotland’s newest cap.
“It is going to be a good couple of games in the next couple of weeks. That [Glasgow] will be the true test for us to see where we are at for the season because they are unbeaten in the competition so that is our focus.
“We have a pretty big couple of games against them ahead.”
Burleigh’s two scores along with tries from Blair Kinghorn and the impressive skipper Stuart McInally, who continued his excellent form from the autumn Tests, had Edinburgh in a commanding 26-10 half-time lead.
Darcy Graham marked his Edinburgh debut with an acrobatic finish and there were more scores from Sam Hidalgo-Clyne, Junior Rasolea and Sean Kennedy.
Coach Richard Cockerill will now look to manage his squad to have them fresh and in the best possible shape to try and end Glasgow’s perfect start to the Guinness Pro14 season.
“I’ll look after some of the international guys,” said Cockerill. “They’ve had a heavy workload. It was important they played. I’ll look after some of those next week. But we don’t want to end up on our arses next week [against Krasny Yar] by getting too ahead of ourselves.
“It’s a tough gig for Glasgow. They’ve obviously had a lot of guys playing Test matches, two big games against Montpellier, and they’ll come here against a very motivated Edinburgh team on the 23rd.
“We have the luxury of looking after our squad and I’ll do that next week. But it will be a strong side, which I expect to put in a good performance. We’re actually creating some competition for places, which is good, and nobody is safe in their spot, which is great.”
As for Burleigh, he is fuelled by the glow of that first Test cap at the age of 31 as he came off the bench in the Australia Test.
“It was a huge milestone in my career and something i will cherish forever,” said the man from Christchurch, who qualified for Scotland on residency grounds. “They are a great bunch of boys and Scottish rugby is building very well. There is a great culture there. It is something i will keep in mind forever. It was something pretty special.”
Burleigh switched from inside centre to stand-off early in the second half as Cockerill looked to protect his only fit specialist stand-off, Jaco van der Walt, who looked good on his home debut.
“Running the cutter at ten again was nice,” said Burleigh. “The boys are making it easy at the moment. The forwards are rumbling it up up front and makes front foot ball pretty good.
“Cockers has done a great job, toughening us up. He is building a very good team culture. Maybe we took a bit for granted. It is really good to see this team starting to grow.
“I always knew it was there. It was just getting it out of us. We are building on wins and game by game and it is nice to see.
“It is exciting to hopefully make the quarter-final. Any quarter-final, regardless what it is, is pretty special.”