Rugby: Edinburgh coach wants fans to view London Irish clash as Calcutta Cup warm-up

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Edinburgh coach Michael Bradley is urging fans to flock to Sunday’s Heineken Cup showdown with London Irish and use it as a rehearsal for the forthcoming Calcutta Cup clash.

Looking ahead to a match in which a win would bolster the Capital outfit’s bid for a place in the knockout stages of the competition, Bradley, pictured right, said: “It could be a fantastic day. I suppose we are lucky, Murrayfield can hold around 70,000. Why not practice for the English game but be a benefit to Edinburgh Rugby and fill the stadium?”

The Irishman believes his players have several factors in their favour going into the match. “We have the advantage we are playing at home which means there is no travel. I think our fans will be excited about it and I think the players themselves will be excited.”

However, he insists that the magnitude of the occasion will not be allowed to deflect from the need to perform well and he concedes that Friday’s last-ditch win over Racing Metro in Paris exposed some areas of weakness.

“You have to do the basics right and we didn’t do all our basics right. We will be disappointed with some areas of our game – the consistency in the line-out and the scrum wasn’t where we wanted it to be, but we will work on those.”

Bradley’s policy of squad rotation has drawn some comment over recent weeks, but he believes the benefits of that were evident at Stade Yves du Manoir.

“We just got lucky near the end. We just held our composure and fell over the line with a Phil Godman drop-goal which is credit to him for doing all the hard yards in training the last six months to get back. To snatch a win like that is great credit to him and great credit to the lads.

“The last couple of weeks we had three matches in 11 days so we were never going to play the same team in all three matches. So it was very good for us to get an opportunity to see everybody perform. One of those was Phil in the match at Firhill (against Glasgow).

“You move on to a situation like this and you win with the last kick. Really, everything needed to fall into place to get into a position like that. And if you hadn’t played your players that couldn’t have happened.”

Meanwhile, Racing Metro coach Pierre Berbizier has said that Friday’s 27-24 defeat could be attributed to the shortcomings of his side rather than the performance of Edinburgh.

The former France and Italy boss stated: “We gave them the match rather than them winning it. I felt we had most of the game. We weren’t beaten by a great Edinburgh side. Frankly, they didn’t stretch us and I believe that we made it more difficult for them than the other way round.”