Matt Fagerson explains why Glasgow Warriors can have key back-row advantage over Edinburgh

Matt Fagerson believes that the Glasgow Warriors back-row can have a decisive edge over their Edinburgh counterparts in the opening leg of this season’s 1872 Cup double-header at Scotstoun on Friday night.
Matt Fagerson prepares for Friday's 1872 Cup match against Edinburgh.Matt Fagerson prepares for Friday's 1872 Cup match against Edinburgh.
Matt Fagerson prepares for Friday's 1872 Cup match against Edinburgh.

Whilst recognising that Jamie Ritchie, Luke Crosbie and Viliame Mata have performed well for the capital outfit in recent weeks, Fagerson insists that he, fellow Scotland cap Jack Dempsey and Tongan international Sione Vailanu can dominate the contest.

“That’s something that’s really developed over the last few years,” said the 24-year-old. “You’ve got a lot of young back-rowers coming through, and the additions of Jack and Sione have been huge for us. They add a different dynamic to the game. As you saw against Perpignan last weekend, Sione can break tackles left, right and centre, and Jack has done that for the last two seasons as well.

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“We all like to get on the ball, we all like to make big hits in defence, so we have good strengths and complement each other quite well. It’s been working well. There’s a lot of competition which I think spurs everyone on and makes everyone have to improve their game, so I think the match-up between the Edinburgh and Glasgow back-rows this weekend will be quite spicy.”

Glasgow are aiming to get their hands back on the 1872 Cup after Edinburgh achieved the better aggregate score over two legs last season, and while Fagerson admits that the opposition do pose a much greater attacking threat under Mike Blair than under previous head coach Richard Cockerill, he believes home advantage in the opening match of the double-header is a big advantage.

“Whoever has the home game first usually has the momentum, so we’re probably taking the games as two halves with the first half here at Scotstoun,” he reasoned. “We’ll put our best foot forward, bring that physical edge, then look to do the same at Murrayfield the following week. Edinburgh have got a plethora of riches in their back-row and back-three which they definitely try to utilise more under Mike,” he added. “They want to play a more expansive game and in Ben Vellacott they’ve got a huge running threat at No 9. But we’ve done a lot of homework and have played against a lot of their individuals before, so we know what needs to be done.”