FRUSTRATED Edinburgh skipper Andries Strauss has urged his nearly-men to go the extra mile when they square up to the Dragons in Wales later this week.
The sides clash in their delayed Pro12 fixture at Rodney Parade on Thursday – with the capital side determined to halt their sequence of narrow away defeats.
Their latest close call came at the weekend as they fell 20-16 in Treviso – their third consecutive consolation bonus point on the road, but a match that they could and should have won. Centre Strauss admitted: “All in all, the Italian trip was very disappointing because we really believed could have won that one – and, to be quite frank, we should have.
“In fact, as a team we have been good enough to have won there other recent games at Galway and Llanelli against Connacht the Scarlets and Treviso.The positive is that we are going through a process and we are a fairly new team playing together at the moment. We are definitely building towards something.
“We know what our end goal is and we are taking small steps towards reaching that goal. We can look at it as three bonus points on the road, but ultimately we are capable of winning those games. If we stick to what we are supposed to be doing , we will start winning those games.
“Our problem against Treviso was that we moved away from our strategy in the second half, which allowed them to consistently get into our territory and score two tries.”
Meanwhile, Glasgow head coach Gregor Townsend believes he could need two full teams of players to get his side to the Pro12 play-offs.
In the wake of their bruising triumph over top-four rivals Ospreys on Friday, the coach admitted he is expecting a spate of injuries during the last six league matches – the first of which is against Treviso at Scotstoun this weekend.
Townsend said: “There are some sore bodies again this week. At this time of year you are always going to pick up knocks, so you need to rely on 30/35 players going into the last few weeks of the campaign.
“That is why we have squads of at least 40, plus the Academy youngsters. Against the Ospreys, Pat McArthur was taken off with concussion and Tommy Seymour had a shoulder injury - but was still tackling! Chris Cusiter got a few stitches under his eye and Pete Murchie cramped up right at the end.”
While Edinburgh and Glasgow continue their Pro12 campaigns, they will look on with envy as the remaining eight clubs contest the Heineken Cup quarter-finals this weekend. ,
With sell-out attendances guaranteed at all four venues, this year’s list of remaining contenders for Heineken Cup silverware reads like a veritable who’s who of the European game.
The knockout stage gets under way on Saturday with the heavyweight clash of Munster and Toulouse which marks the first visit of the French four-time champions to Thomond Park.
Munster, who will be smarting following their 22-18 defeat by Leinster last weekend, topped Pool 6 and qualified as fourth seeds. The champions from 2006 and ’08 are appearing in a 15th Heineken Cup quarter-final, and a 26,600-capacity crowd is set to witness a mouthwatering confrontation between two of the great European clubs.
Next up is the much anticipated meeting of Scotland coach-in-waiting Vern Cotter’s side, ASM Clermont Auvergne, and Leicester Tigers at the Stade Marcel-Michelin cauldron where Clermont, who lost 26-24 to Brive on the road last weekend, hold an astonishing 74-game unbeaten home run in all competitions.
Saturday’s series of matches concludes with a repeat of last year’s quarter-final between Ulster and Saracens and the quarter-finals weekend will be wrapped up in style with reigning Heineken Cup champions, Toulon – 32-28 winners over Toulouse last weekend – taking on reigning Amlin Challenge Cup champions, Leinster at Stade Felix Mayol on Sunday.