Glasgow have a “fantastic opportunity” to get their season back on track when they meet Edinburgh this weekend and next, according to Petrus du Plessis.
The Warriors assistant coach believes his team will be motivated both by their greater need for points after a poor start to the Pro14 season and by a desire to exorcise the frustrations of last week’s Champions Cup loss to La Rochelle.
Edinburgh won both 1872 Cup games over the festive season last year, and so go into this series as trophy-holders. But Du Plessis was quick to point out that his side won the final match of the three, claiming that Edinburgh were “smashed off the park” in their 34-10 defeat in April, a result which he is sure will inspire the home squad on Saturday at Scotstoun.
“Last year and the year before we were comfortable and they were scrapping for it and they were more desperate than us,” Du Plessis said. “This year it will be interesting to see how we go, because we’re in that position.
Desperate for points
“It’s still in our hands, but we’ve got to focus, because we’re desperate for the points. To come up against Edinburgh is a fantastic opportunity to put things right. For us it’s massively important now. You can say what you want about last year when they won twice before we absolutely smashed them off the park in the last game, but for us it’s to pick up from there and do what we know we do well.
“It’s two very different game strategies that we have, so whoever does the small bits right is going to come away with the win. Both strategies could work pretty well – it’s just who can do it best.
“They’re physical, Richard Cockerill has got in their ears and hyped up the whole derby thing, but so have we. We talk about the culture we have in Glasgow compared to Edinburgh, and we’ve just got to show it at the weekend.”
'We go again' after La Rochelle disappointment
That culture of confident, free-flowing rugby was conspicuous by its absence last Saturday, when Glasgow dominated much of the game against La Rochelle but made far too many errors, albeit in very difficult conditions, and lost 12-7. “It’s not as if we played that poorly that we are concerned,” Du Plessis insisted. “I just think we go again, and what better opportunity than at home against Edinburgh?
“The Pro14 is still pretty much in our hands, so we just need to keep our heads down, prepare really well, and go on. It will come.
“We just want to put things right. The best thing about rugby is seven days later you can fix those wrongs and make it right.
“The boys were hurting a lot and we know the challenge is going to get even tougher against Edinburgh - the guys know each other really well from Scotland, so there’s a lot more to it than for example playing Cardiff Blues or Leinster.
“It’s closer to the bone for us, so it’s going to be a hell of a physical battle.”
'No malice in Fagerson challenge'
Loosehead prop Oli Kebble will be available again for Glasgow after injury, but No 8 Matt Fagerson will almost certainly be missing after being sent off for an illegal use of an arm to fend off a tackle in the final minutes against La Rochelle. It is understood that Glasgow will not appeal against Fagerson’s red card when a disciplinary hearing is held in London today, with a two- or three-week suspension being the most likely outcome.
However, Du Plessis believes there were mitigating circumstances which the panel should take into consideration. “There’s so little margin that, if someone tackles high, you can get an elbow to the chin or something – not through the ball-carrier’s choice but through bad tackle technique. You can get your face in the way. He’s a fantastic player and there’s no malice in any of this – that’s just his style of running with the ball.”