EDINBURGH captain Greig Laidlaw has urged his side to make it three successive league wins for the first time in over two years when they face Glasgow Warriors in tonight’s Rabo Direct PRO 12 showdown at Scotstoun.
Edinburgh last achieved the feat in October 2010 when Leinster, Aironi and Ulster were seen off in successive league matches, and Laidlaw hopes the Murrayfield men seize their chance to build up a head of steam.
“Three in a row would be a good one to put in the bank and use to help us start climbing the league,” said the Scottish international half-back.
Tonight’s encounter will be the first occasion since 1997 that Edinburgh have undertaken a trip to Scotstoun, which welcomed Glasgow back as tenants at the beginning of this season. Despite the change in venue, however, Laidlaw believes competition will be typically intense in a game which will be refereed by Frenchman Jerome Garces.
Garces is the official who moved in from touch judge to take the whistle when injury caused compatriot Romain Poite to retire during the second half of last season’s Calcutta Cup clash at Murrayfield.
“There’s definitely more fluency with a French referee in charge,” said Laidlaw, who moves back to scrum half, where he will partner recently-signed stand-off Piers Francis.
“I think French referees are particularly good, too, at scrums, probably stemming from the fact the set-piece is such a big part of their domestic game. I look forward to working with him. I think French refs are good for the game.”
The more positives Edinburgh, whose natural approach is to up the tempo, can take into combat the better, but Laidlaw insists no special attention should be paid to the fact that Scotland have a new interim head coach in Scott Johnson, as players will be going flat out to do their best anyway.
“I don’t think the national coach will cross many players’ minds. If you go out and control your own destiny and play well you will hopefully get picked for Scotland,” said Laidlaw.
“The mindset probably changes a little because of the nature of the game. It will be pretty physical, pretty scrappy.
“We need to have our heads right, be mentally and physically tough and take the game to Glasgow.
“We have not had the best of starts, but winning the next couple of games (the return fixture takes place at Murrayfield on December 29) would put us on the edge of the top four and play-offs.”
For Edinburgh coach Michael Bradley, the prospect of a first league “hat-trick” in over two years triggers a reminder that the team has been inconsistent.
Nevertheless, he acknowledges runs have to start somewhere, and he challenged the team to go on and emulate Glasgow’s feat of winning six games on the bounce earlier in the current campaign.
“When momentum starts to develop it is a good thing, a positive even if this one is a bit at the embryonic stage,” said Bradley.
“The big thing is it is a derby because in a 22-match league you only have two of them each season. In sport generally there is a feeling that derbies are special because all supporters understand the concept.
“Even those on the outside of the game ask, ‘what is my city and what team should I be supporting’, and we have to respond to that.”
Edinburgh will roll up seeking to get the scoreboard moving again, having failed to notch a try in home and away European ties with Racing Metro but, according to Bradley, hope lies in the fact that at least opening are being carved out.
“Last week we created a lot of opportunities in terms of kicks but the management of that was not as clinical as we would have liked. Our discipline in relation to penalties in both matches was good home and away and we had even more chances in terms of scoring tries over at Racing and didn’t take them.
“Creating is the important thing for me and the coaches at the moment. The players are too good not to convert.”
If, however, the outcome does come down to goal-kicks, Edinburgh will be glad to have Laidlaw back after he was rested last week.
This will take pressure off Francis in a team which has James King replacing the injured Nick De Luca at centre.