A MOUTH-WATERING duel between Scotland’s leading scrum-halves has added some extra spice to next month’s European Challenge Cup final at Twickenham Stoop.
Gloucester booked their place to face Edinburgh on Saturday night when they defeated Exeter Chiefs in the second semi-final at Kingsholm. Scotland skipper Greig Laidlaw kicked 12 points in the Cherry and Whites victory and will now face the side he played almost 139 times for between 2007 and 2014. It was Laidlaw who led Edinburgh to their previous best result in Europe when they reached the Heineken Cup semi-finals in 2012.
Edinburgh made history on Friday night when they hammered Newport Gwent Dragons 45-16 at BT Murrayfield to become the first Scottish team to reach a European final.
Young scrum-half Sam Hidalgo-Clyne was the home team’s star man as he contributed 25 points in what was just the latest in a string of impressive displays by the Spanish-born 21-year-old. He deputised for Laidlaw in the recent Six Nations, coming off the bench in all five games. So eye-catching has Hidalgo-Clyne’s recent form been, however, that he is beginning to be seen as a genuine contender for the 29-year-old’s No 9 jersey as the Rugby World Cup approaches.
Following Friday’s victory over the Dragons, Hidalgo-Clyne described the potential of a head-to-head with Laidlaw as “awesome” but was keen to stress that he is still the latter in a master-student dynamic.
Meanwhile, Gloucester chief David Humphreys said after Saturday’s win over Exeter: “Edinburgh were very impressive in defeating the Dragons. It’s the best I’ve seen them play all season.”
• Tickets for the European Challenge Cup final at Twickenham Stoop on Friday 1 May are on sale, priced between £20 and £45. Go to epcrugby.com/finals