DCSIMG

Glasgow v Edinburgh: Capital look to end slump

Edinburgh hooker Ross Ford hopes that his side can produce a much  improved performance. Picture: SNS

Edinburgh hooker Ross Ford hopes that his side can produce a much improved performance. Picture: SNS

  • by DAVID BARNES
 

THE elephant in the room when Edinburgh gave their pre-match press conference yesterday ahead of this evening’s 1872 Cup showdown against Glasgow Warriors was the fact that the capital outfit have been truly awful in their last two outings – at just the same time as their arch rivals in the west have hit a red-hot streak of form.

RaboDirect Pro12

At Scotstoun Stadium, tonight, 7:05pm

Live on BBC Alba/Radio Scotland MW

Questions on this issue were directed towards head coach Alan Solomons and senior player Ross Ford on this issue, but nobody seemed capable or prepared to adequately explain it.

“We have an understanding of where things are at. We have looked at our competitive season and it has taken place in three stages. The first stage was the pre-season bit where we had to get our systems working, which was obviously challenging for us. The second part I think we started moving forward pretty well in terms of our Heineken Cup campaign and picking up some decent wins against sides like Leinster and the Ospreys. But the back third of the season has been tough,” said Solomons.

“The two postponed games left us with a run of eight back-to-back games, five of them away. Fatigue has set in and the conditioning [of the players] was not what we would have wanted, and that has certainly had an impact. The side is fatigued and last weekend was very difficult for us,” he added.

Ford was equally oblique when asked if there was any cause for optimism amongst Edinburgh supporters that their team might be able to shrug off the mediocrity of recent weeks to cause a major upset at Scotstoun tonight.

“Obviously we would like to be going into a game like this with some momentum, but we haven’t got that so we have to get it through the way we train. We’ve worked hard in training this week, focusing on things we believe will come up against us during the game, and we’re building confidence that way,” said the hooker.

“We have got the skills there, we’ve worked hard during the early part of the season, and those games we won were through our work-rate and execution, so it’s all there. It’s just about being consistent over the full 80 minutes. In the last couple of games we’ve been inconsistent executing those things and it has cost us.”

The contrasting trajectories of these two teams in recent matches could not be more dramatic. Two weeks ago today, the Warriors were inflicting a heaviest home defeat in over five years on Munster when they ran out 22-5 victors at Thomond Park; while the previous night Edinburgh were bullied into a humiliating home capitulation against Cardiff Blues. The 22-29 scoreline that night flattered the hosts.

The Warriors followed their Munster success up with another impressive win last Friday night, when they barged past play-off rivals Ulster in emphatic style at Scotstoun; then just a few short hours later Edinburgh slumped to another humbling defeat, this time away to struggling Zebre.

In two short weeks, the Warriors have gone from talking hopefully about qualifying for the end of season play-offs by making the top four in the Rabo Pro 12, to being the frontrunners in the race to finish second in the table and thus secure a home draw.

Edinburgh, meanwhile, have gone from being serious contenders to qualify for the top flight of European rugby next year, to talking wistfully about the importance of earning respect.

“We said at the beginning of the season that we wanted to earn respect, and I think we have done that. That’s very important as far as these last few games are concerned. We’re playing three sides who are all competing for the top spot. We can see the finishing line and we need to lift ourselves and deliver good performances,” said Solomons.

Respect is a lovely concept, but the cold hard currency of wins and league points is the only thing that really matters – and Solomons had been around the block enough times to know that. One thing is for sure, Edinburgh are going to have to find some extra energy from somewhere this evening or face a humiliating reverse against their biggest rivals.

At least Solomons can call on Greig Laidlaw, who is back from his controversial five-week sabbatical (aimed at making sure the scrum-half will be fresh for next September’s World Cup).

“A number of things persuaded us that we need to bring him back. We spoke to [SRU director of rugby] Scott [Johnson] about it. Greig has had a good rest and I think it is fantastic for him to play in this game. He is moving on to Gloucester next year and I’d like him to finish his career with Edinburgh on a good note,” said Solomons.

“You have to bear in mind that he hasn’t played rugby for a month, which is a long time. But he has a very good temperament and he is a very experienced player. I think a player like Greig is well capable of coming straight back into the team. I think he will add a lot of value.”

How the teams lineup:

GLASGOW

15. P Murchie

14. S Maitland

13. M Bennett

12. F Russell

11. T Seymour

10. R Jackson

9. C Cusiter

1. R Grant

2. D Hall

3. J Welsh

4. J Gray

5. A Kellock (c)

6. R Harley

7. C Fusaro

8. J Strauss

Subs

16. P MacArthur

17. J Yanuyanutawa

18. M Low

19. L Nakarawa

20. R Wilson

21. N Matawalu

22. D Weir

23. R Vernon

EDINBURGH

15. J Cuthbert

14. T Brown

13. M Scott

12. A Strauss

11. T Visser

10. C Bezuidenhout

9. G Laidlaw (c)

1. A Dickinson

2. R Ford

3. W Nel

4. G Gilchrist

5. I van der Westhuizen

6. M Coman

7. C du Preez

8. D Denton

Subs

16. J Hilterbrand

17. J Blaauw

18. S Berghan

19. B Toolis

20. T Leonardi

21 . G Hart

22 . P Francis

23 . S Beard

 

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