Edinburgh Rugby host Glasgow Warriors at Murrayfield tomorrow in the first of three 1872 Cup matches this season. Here’s all you need to know about the derby match...
Where is it: BT MURRAYFIELD
What time is kick-off: 5.10pm
Where can I watch it on TV: SKY SPORTS ACTION and BBC ALBA
Who’s the referee: Frank Murphy (Ire)
Odds: Edinburgh 11/8; Glasgow 8/13; Draw 18-1 (odds correct at the time of writing)
Main talking points
THE CROWD: With ticket sales already beyond 20,000 the hope now will be that a new record attendance can be set for the fixture. The benchmark came on 27 December 2015 when 23,642 watched Edinburgh shock Glasgow with a 23-11 victory. Last year’s Edinburgh leg took place on Boxing Day and the crowd dropped back a few thousand but the SRU will be hoping that the feelgood factor from the autumn Tests and a pre-Christmas Saturday evening timeslot can push the attendance up.
CAPITAL REVIVAL: Edinburgh go into the match with nine wins out of ten under their belt and brimming with confidence. This game will be a key acid test in in terms of assessing how far the revival has come. It’s not just the results that have been positive, the brand of rugby played under Richard Cockerill has been a marked improvement on recent years and the spiky Englishman is sure to have his troops fired up for this. Edinburgh teams who have been struggling have had a habit of raising their game against Glasgow of late so it will be fascinating to see how a capital side on form goes. They remain underdogs, however, against Dave Rennie’s Glasgow, who have had setbacks in Europe but run amok in the Guinness Pro14 this season with a perfect record to defend.
The key battle grounds
SET PIECE: Always important, even more so in the emotional whirlpool of a derby. With Edinburgh missing experience in the front row, Glasgow may have a slight edge in the scrum where Jamie Bhatti has been a revelation. Glasgow’s lineout has struggled recently but the return of Fraser Brown to the fray helped Glasgow at the sidelines yesterday.
DEFENCE: You have to feel for Tommy Seymour who has struggled against big wingers in the past and the Glasgow man had no answer to the power of Montpellier’s Nemani Nadolo. Richard Cockerill has gone with Edinburgh’s own 100kg+ flyer, Duhan van der Merwe, against Seymour. Edinburgh have the best stats in the Pro14 for tackle completion, one percentage point ahead of Glasgow.
HALF-BACKS: Ali Price has been teamed with Peter Horne again as Dave Rennie gives the latter another audition on the big stage with a view to Finn Russell, who starts on the bench, departing for France at the end of the season. Price may be more used to playing with Russell but he knows Horne well too and it is a more familiar pairing than Sam Hidalgo-Clyne and recent arrival Jaco van der Walt from South Africa, who is Edinburgh’s only fit specialist stand-off. Van der Walt has looked promising in his early outings but this will be his biggest test so far.
FORWARD ARM WRESTLE: Edinburgh boast the best ball carrier in Viliame “Bill” Mata who has excellent support in Magnus Bradbury, Grant Gilchrist, Stuart McInally and Ben Toolis. Glasgow are overly reliant on Zander Fagerson.
EUROPE: Edinburgh have rested key players and still run in 20 tries against London Irish and Krasny Yar, clubs that can be charitably called second class. In contrast Glasgow have gone toe-to-toe with Montpellier, giants of the game. So do players need rest or do they need to be battle hardened? We’ll know better next weekend but you fancy Glasgow will benefit from two tough games in quick succession.