Top six more important to Grant Gilchrist than Euro run

Grant Gilchrist is still battling back from a fracture injury to an arm. Jack Cuthbert is pictured below
Grant Gilchrist is still battling back from a fracture injury to an arm. Jack Cuthbert is pictured below
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Edinburgh second row Grant Gilchrist believes strong domestic performances must take precedence over a lengthy run in European competition.

Gilchrist’s remarks – made in a social media question session promoted by Caledonia Best beer – take on extra significance with Edinburgh in the lower half of the league but on the brink of reaching the knockout stages of the European Challenge Cup after four wins from as many starts.

Edinburgh return to Guinness Pro 12 action tonight against Benetton Treviso at BT Murrayfield and Gilchrist said: “I think league position has a greater importance. I was lucky enough to play in the European semi-final a few years back which was very special but I think we have a reputation for being inconsistent in the league and that’s something we’re working hard to address.

“We can beat anyone on our day but we need to find that consistency to really push up the league and target a top-six finish that will guarantee a Champions Cup spot.”

Clearly, it rankles in the Edinburgh dressing-room that they are in Europe’s second tier event but they would do well to focus on the fact they have lost their last three meetings with Italian opposition.

As Gilchrist battles back from an injury that prevented him captaining Scotland in the Autumn Tests, a further warning that Treviso are a potential banana skin comes from international colleagues. For the third week in a row, taking into account back-to-back European Challenge Cup contests with London Welsh, the Capital outfit are being confronted by opposition still to get off the mark for the season.

Full back Jack Cuthbert said: “This adds a different kind of pressure especially with the way Treviso’s results have gone of late. They have suffered some heavy defeats. In my experience there is nothing worse than a wounded animal.

“I think this will be a target game for them, to come here and try and steal a win.

“Reflecting on last season we had great home wins against Munster and Perpignan, huge European sides. Then we slipped against sides where people might have expected us to get the win.

“Whether it was a case of taking things for granted, I don’t know. But we had some great wins and poor losses last year.

“It is about thinking less of who is in front of us and more on what we can bring to it.”

Winger Dougie Fife agrees: “If they (Treviso) are in the game with 10-15 minutes to go it can go anywhere. We need to come out strongly as we have done in a few games this year and put them away early.”

Bonus points for scoring four tries or more have been a problem for Edinburgh and this would be a particularly opportune time to claim one. But Fife says: “We need to get the win first and once the game is safe you can try and open it up.”

Edinburgh will be without Test centre Matt Scott due to a hip flexor injury but coach Alan Solomons says the player’s absence is more precautionary.

Solomons was unable to say when hooker Ross Ford might return, however, having been sidelined with a back complaint since representing Scotland against Tonga three weeks ago.