THEIR partnership may position the bludgeon alongside the rapier but Alex Dunbar is hoping that he will once again be paired with Peter Horne at centre when Glasgow travel along the M8 to face Edinburgh in the second leg of the 1872 Cup at BT Murrayfield tomorrow, determined to retain the trophy for the sixth year in succession.
Yet while the dexterous Horne had a crucial part to play in the solitary try that was yielded from the first leg of the oldest club derby of the lot, Dunbar found his brutal ball-carrying negated by a ferocious Edinburgh defence.
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But when it came to the merits of his partner, the 24-year-old had no doubt of the key contribution the former Howe of Fife favourite makes to the Warriors’ cause and is adamant that the extra width and the perfect surface at the national stadium will allow the duo to prosper if they line-up once again tomorrow.
Indeed, such is the high regard in which he holds Horne, Dunbar is hopeful another fine showing from his sidekick may help him force his way into Vern Cotter’s RBS Six Nations’ plans for the New Year.
“I thought Horney was outstanding at the weekend. He takes a lot of pressure off the other backs as he is a great communicator and organiser and he is also another receiver at 10 if Duncan [Weir] is not there,” said Dunbar.
He continued: “He also has a huge work rate and he helps out the team a lot and he keeps going to the end. A lot of good things come on the back of what Peter Horne does.
“Obviously there is a lot of competition for Scotland but Pete has come into some really good form at a good time. He has got to be right in there again.
“As a partnership, we offer different things with different areas of our games that are more natural to us. I think we are a good combination and we have a good understanding. So I just hope, with a bit of extra turf to work with, we get the chance of another crack at Edinburgh [tomorrow].”
Dunbar admits that his failure to fire in the first leg was largely down to the efforts of his international compadre in the Edinburgh midfield Matt Scott: “It was good fun playing against him and we have spent quite a bit of time in camp so we know each other’s game well and it was all about shutting each other down.
“As a result, neither of us got much opportunity to run with ball in the first game so, if we get that opportunity at Murrayfield, it will be about imposing our game on each other.
“But some weeks it is tougher to play at high tempo and defences get better as they get more used to us. The mistakes and turnovers we made were irritating but a lot of them were down to our own mistakes.
“The other side of that is that Edinburgh are a high-count tackling team and they get to the breakdown quickly.”
Dunbar admits that, with Glasgow nursing a ten-point aggregate advantage, Alan Solomons’ men will come out with “all guns blazing” tomorrow.
He said: “I expect much of the same from Edinburgh at Murrayfield. I think they were a bit frustrated with the way we defended and I think it will make them even more physical on Friday. They will come out with all guns blazing and be really determined to eat in to the deficit and so, early on, I am expecting it to be pretty brutal. But the first leg was a frustrating affair. It is a derby and you know it will be tight, but we struggled to impose our game on them.”
To avoid another bout of frustration and claim victory in satisfactory fashion, Dunbar admits Glasgow may have to change their approach in a bid to produce the type of performance that is true to their attacking ethos.
He said: “We can play in different ways and, in the first leg, our driving maul went well and our forwards went through a huge work rate.
“So we have different strengths to our game and we can’t be chucking the ball wide-to-wide all the time. We need to look at the backs helping out the forwards as that was a big work-rate they got through on Saturday.”
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