THERE is no such thing as a good defeat in sport at any level, and that is especially the case in derby matches against your fiercest rivals.
So the fact that Edinburgh haven’t savoured the sweet taste of success against Glasgow Warriors since 2 January 2011, and haven’t lifted the 1872 Cup (as the team with the best aggregate score over the two matches played each season) since the 2008-09 campaign, is a major source of frustration for players, coaches and fans alike of the capital outfit.
However, Jack Cuthbert believes that the nature of Edinburgh’s more recent reverses against the Warriors can provide hope that his team are ready to bring to an end their inter-city win drought as they head into Friday night’s clash against Gregor Townsend’s high-flying squad.
When asked about last Saturday’s 16-6 loss against the Warriors at Scotstoun, Cuthbert said: “It’s a difficult one. Because it’s a loss it is just as painful as losing by 20 or 30 points, but, given that it was Glasgow and they are on a good roll at the moment, to come away with ten points is encouraging.”
“In derby games, a small thing can massively change the game. They got ten points right at the end of the first half – three points for a penalty and then a try – and suddenly the whole scoreboard was flipped upside down.”
“It hurt the boys in the sense that we felt we lost it rather than them winning it. There were plenty of opportunities for us to convert performance into points, but, throughout the game, we turned over far too much ball, which lets a good side like Glasgow into it.”
Cuthbert continued: “We knew going into the game that Glasgow are a team who compete a lot at the breakdown, are very physical and make you work for everything. Giving some simple turnovers away really took our foot off the gas at points in the game when we could have done with coming away with some points. Going into this week, we will be focusing on ourselves and focusing on trying to keep the number of turnovers down.”
It was another tight contest at Scotstoun when the two sides met towards the tail end of last season (their New Year fixture had been postponed due to a waterlogged pitch), with two second half tries by Tim Visser securing a losing bonus point for the visitors and narrowing the gap to 37-34 at the end.
If Edinburgh were slightly fortunate to be within touching distance at the conclusion of that game, Cuthbert is in no doubt that they should have won the match they played at Murrayfield earlier in the campaign.
Edinburgh led that match with 67 minutes played – and could have been out of sight had Cuthbert, Dave Denton and Cornell du Preez managed to make the most of golden try-scoring opportunities – but all that hard work came unstuck when Stuart Hogg latched on to an Alex Dunbar chip-kick to steal the spoils.
“I think there is no doubt that we were unlucky not to get the win that time. I thought we played well for the best part of it. Glasgow got that quick try right at the end which turned everything. We left a few tries out there. I thought we went pretty well and we were hard done by not to come away with the result,” reflects Cuthbert. “That’s something that wears on my mind and is staying on my mind and the minds of a lot of the guys. We had a big opportunity that day and these are not the kind of things you want to let slip. We will all be remembering that come the weekend.”
Edinburgh need to overcome a ten-point deficit if they want to finally reclaim the 1872 Cup, and there is no doubt that Cuthbert would dearly love to get his hands on some silverware again, for the first time since being a member of the Bath squad which lifted the European Challenge Cup in 2008. However, the full-back is acutely aware of the dangers of putting the cart before the horse. Any sort of victory over a team which has consistently proved itself to be one of the strongest sides in this league in recent seasons would serve as a huge confidence boost, and provide some invaluable momentum heading into the second half of the campaign.
“Given the fact it’s only a ten-point deficit, there will definitely be some added emotion behind bringing the cup home as well, but what comes first will be winning the game for Edinburgh,” he explained. It is worth noting that last weekend’s victory by the Warriors was the biggest winning margin in an 1872 Cup match since Edinburgh’s last success three years ago (on that occasion the scoreline was 28-17).
“At the end of the day, this is a league game and there are five potentially crucial points up for grabs.
“Of course, it would be nice to pick up a trophy, but the real focus is on finishing as far up the table as we possibly can. That is what will really matter at the end of the season,” concluded Cuthbert.