Edinburgh seeking to win for only second time in 15 years in Glasgow
Most of the stats surrounding the 1872 Cup in recent years make pleasant reading for Edinburgh fans but one in favour of Glasgow still sticks out like a sore thumb.
The Capital side will go into this afternoon’s clash at Scotstoun hoping to make it eight wins in ten against their rivals and take the trophy for the fourth time in five years. If they do, however, it will be only their second triumph on Glasgow soil for 15 years.
It is a remarkable record that will give Dave Rennie’s men some confidence that they can hit back from last week’s limp 23-7 loss at BT Murrayfield and take the contest down to a deciding third game at the end of the regular season.
Asked if such a poor return in Glasgow suggested a psychological block which will have to be countered today, Edinburgh coach Richard Cockerill said: “Maybe, I don’t know. I’ve not been around long enough.
“All teams are stronger at home. It’s a synthetic pitch, which suits them. It’s a tough place to go. We have got to get our mentality right to go away from home and put performances in. We’ve got to front up.”
Edinburgh lost 17-0 at Scotstoun last year but enjoyed a 25-12 win the previous year in what was Gregor Townsend’s last match in charge of the Warriors. They also won the “away” fixture in January 2016 but that match was moved to the national stadium due to Scotstoun being waterlogged.
Cockerill repeated the mantra from last week that Guinness Pro14 points were more important than the silverware.
“One hundred per cent,” he said. “They’re sitting top of their conference and we’re sitting fifth in ours. They’ve earned the right to have a little bit more of a buffer for the play-off spot. We need the points. We’ve got to look at the bigger picture – it’s not just about beating Glasgow, it’s about getting the points.
“We need the points because we are where we are in the table and we’ve dropped some games that we shouldn’t have. Come tomorrow afternoon after the game we’ll know exactly where we are in our development.”
Cockerill has made just one change from last weekend, with Jamie Ritchie coming in at blindside for Luke Hamilton, who has failed concussion protocols. Hamilton was an impressive performer last week but his injury eases any selection headache and fit-again Ritchie will be looking to carry on his fine form from the international stage last month.
“Jamie had a great Autumn Series, he’s a really good young player and he’s been outstanding when he’s played for us this season. So no stress there,” said Cockerill. “Luke Crosbie has done a great job off the bench and he’s another young lad coming through.
“We’re a pretty settled team. We’ve picked the best side that we can that’s available, and we’re going to go and do what we do. We’re looking forward to the challenge.
“It’s certainly not boring, is it? Because we won last week it makes them a bit spikier, it makes the challenge more difficult for ourselves, but we’re going there to go and test ourselves against a very, very good side. We know what they’ll come with. We have to match that and we have to be better than we were last week.”
Edinburgh will be looking for their third straight away win in all competitions and Cockerill added: “It is a really good test for us away as we have been strong at home. It was a good performance last week and we have to match that same intensity this week.
“We have got to be better than we were last year when we went there, simple as that.
“It was 17-0 but 12-0 up until the last play. They have made changes to their team and we have to make sure we are as physical and committed and motivated as we were last week.”
Cockerill said he wasn’t surprised to see Rennie make six changes to his Warriors in a bid to deliver a vastly improved performance.
“They have a deep squad that is fit and available and the players they have brought in are very good players and they will also have real impact from the bench so it is a good squad and that is a very good side,” said the Edinburgh coach.
“They have brought in six internationals to replace their players so they have a very strong side. We expect a very tough battle and we look forward to meeting the challenge.”
Glasgow: 15, Stuart Hogg; 14, Tommy Seymour, 13, Alex Dunbar, 12, Pete Horne, 11 Niko Matawalu; 10, Adam Hastings, 9, Ali Price; 8, Matt Fagerson, 7, Callum Gibbins (cc), 6, Ryan Wilson (cc), 5, Jonny Gray, 4, Tim Swinson, 3, D’Arcy Rae, 2, Grant Stewart, 1, Oli Kebble. Subs: 16. Kevin Bryce; 17. Jamie Bhatti; 18. Siua Halanukonuka; 19. Rob Harley; 20. Chris Fusaro; 21. George Horne; 22. Sam Johnson; 23. DTH van der Merwe.
Edinburgh: 15, Blair Kinghorn; 14, Darcy Graham, 13, James Johnstone, 12, Chris Dean, 11 Duhan van der Merwe; 10, Jaco van der Walt; 9 Henry Pyrgos; 8 Viliame Mata, 7, Hamish Watson, 6, Jamie Ritchie, 5, Grant Gilchrist, 4, Ben Toolis, 3, WP Nel, 2, Stuart McInally (c), 1, Pierre Schoeman. Subs: 16. David Cherry; 17. Allan Dell; 18. Simon Berghan; 19. Callum Hunter-Hill; 20. Luke Crosbie; 21 Nathan Fowles; 22. Simon Hickey; 23. Juan Pablo Socino.