EDINBURGH head coach Alan Solomons believes that a full match performance from his team in the 1872 Cup return at Glasgow tonight like the one they delivered in the first half at Murrayfield will be enough to unseat the hosts and put his club back on track.
The match referee will have a key role to play in that, he believes. The wily South African has made just one change to his side, with prop Alasdair Dickinson returning for Wicus Blaauw, while Glasgow make eight changes, and Solomons commented: “They have a better idea of us and we have a better idea of them, but I don’t think the fact that they have picked a different team is going to present any massive surprise for us. I don’t think they are going to change dramatically.”
However, Solomons knows that the momentum swing of the Boxing Day clash was crucial as his side held a firm grip on the game until they started to lose the breakdown battle in the second half. He bit his tongue after the game on whether that was down to the refereeing of Neil Paterson, the SRU’s Irish referee, and yesterday maintained the diplomatic line when stating that the breakdown was just “very, very messy”.
This week the SRU has handed up-and-coming professional referee Andrew McMenemy the game, which will be one of the biggest he has taken charge of. Both he and Paterson, and other Scottish refs, are now being coached by South African whistler Tappe Henning, the SRU’s new refereeing chief, and Henning’s own strict style appeared to be in evidence with Paterson at Murrayfield as Paterson issued three yellow cards and came down hard on Edinburgh in the second half.
“The breakdown got messy in the second half,” said Solomons. “After looking at the tape it is an area that needs to be addressed by all concerned.
“We have done our homework on it and we look forward to the breakdown this weekend. We speak to the referee every week. I have taken that as a policy, we take the feedback and I think it is a positive. I think Tappe is doing a good job and it’s about everyone getting better, all of us learning and improving, and I think that process is very important.
“I don’t see it as being pressure [on Scottish refs], but a positive thing. Here’s an experienced international ref and referees manager assisting the Scottish referees, and I think that’s a positive thing. We’ve always got to view everything in a positive light, such as meetings with referees, feedback after the game, and it’s two ways. It’s important because we all want a better game, well officiated, and I think the process we’re involved in is a positive one.”
With the battle for possession central again to the outcome of the game, whoever gets on the right side of McMenemy in both halves will be halfway to victory.
he Borders whistler was at Scotstoun yesterday checking a sodden but far more green pitch than Murrayfield’s and is hopeful of a flowing game.
However, Solomons knows that a forward-dominated, tight battle may favour his team more than the hosts.
“It depends on the weather conditions,” he added.
“We’ve had a lot of rain and the pitches are fairly boggy and that obviously affects the playing conditions. But you always adapt to anything, you adapt to conditions, to officiating, to opposition.
“That’s part and parcel of the game.”