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Pro Teams for the Weekend

Sam Hidalgo-Clyne - pic © Al Ross
Sam Hidalgo-Clyne - pic © Al Ross

Yes, the PRO12 is back, and once again we’re in the business of hunting through the TV schedules to see if our lads are on.

Alan Solomons is sticking with the squad that has done him proud so far this season with Jack Cuthbert and Will Helu coming in for the injured Greig Tonks and Chris Dean. Given the Edinburgh representatives that took part in the World Cup were heavy on involvement it may be a few weeks before we see the likes of Nel and Scott back, so it has a slightly patchwork feel to it still but Sam Hidalgo-Clyne comes in on the bench and will be itching to show what he has learned. Even with the signing of John Hardie there is already class in the back row already with Coman, Watson and Manu backed up by Du Preez while there is a refreshing sprinkling of youth around the squad.

Zebre v Edinburgh (not on TV)

Edinburgh Rugby: Jack Cuthbert, Tom Brown, Will Helu, Andries Strauss, Damien Hoyland, Phil Burleigh, Nathan Fowles; Rory Sutherland, Neil Cochrane, John Andress, Anton Bresler, Fraser Mackenzie, Mike Coman (capt), Hamish Watson, Nasi Manu
Replacements: George Turner, Allan Dell, Simon Berghan, Alex Toolis, Cornell Du Preez, Sam Hidalgo-Clyne, Dougie Fife, Blair Kinghorn

Gregor Townsend has more returning players to deal with, and perhaps more need of them with Glasgow experiencing a much shakier start to the season before settling into things a little. Sean Lamont, Richie Vernon, Duncan Weir, Tim Swinson and Ryan Wilson all had limited game time and will be keen to get back into action. Kevin Bryce completes the returning contingent on the bench while overall it is still a strong looking team with Taqele Naiyaravoro and Simone Favaro (imagine those two passing to each other in Gaelic, good luck Hugh Dan) in the pack and up front young lads Allan and Fagerson will be looking to show the other end of the M8 there are bright scrummaging times ahead.

Leinster v Glasgow (live on Sky Sports 2)

Leinster: Isa Nacewa; Garry Ringrose, Ben Te’o, Noel Reid, Fergus McFadden; Cathal Marsh, Luke McGrath; Michael Bent, Aaron Dundon, Marty Moore; Ross Molony, Mike McCarthy; Rhys Ruddock, Josh van der Flier, Jack Conan.
Replacements: James Tracy, Peter Dooley, Tadhg Furlong, Dominic Ryan, Daniel Leavy, Isaac Boss, Ross Byrne, Cian Kelleher.

Glasgow Warriors: Sean Lamont; Taqele Naiyaravoro, Richie Vernon, Fraser Lyle, Rory Hughes; Duncan Weir, Mike Blair; Alex Allan, Pat MacArthur, Zander Fagerson, Tim Swinson, Scott Cummings, Rob Harley (capt), Simone Favaro, Ryan Wilson.
Replacements: Kevin Bryce, Jerry Yanuyanutawa, Mike Cusack, Greg Peterson, Adam Ashe, Hugh Blake, Grayson Hart, Rory Clegg.

16 Responses

  1. Would expect Edinburgh to beat Zebre away. The pack looks strong but not a lot of guile in the backs.
    A more difficult fixture on paper for Glasgow, although the Leinster line-up looks to be short of a few 1st team regulars. The Glasgow back row looks good as do the backs.
    Naiyaravoro is difficult enough to say in English, so Hugh Dan had better ensure he puts his teeth in tonight.

  2. Edinburgh have started well, but Zebre will be a tough proposition on home territory, and with most of their returning Italian internationals in the squad they will be significantly stronger than their first four games. Recent years have shown that is a tough place to go for Edinburgh.

    That said, a huge opportunity – a bonus point win puts the Gunners top of the pile after 5 games (and with as many points as they had at the half way 11 game stage last season)

  3. Another dissapointing and frustrating game for Glasgow. They’ve dominated large parts of games against Llaelli, Munster and Leinster, but contrived to lose all 3.
    They were a bit unlucky with the yellow cards last night, but lady luck certainly isn’t going their way for now.
    Still, it’s a young team for the most part, and they have already played away from home to two of the teams (Munster & Leinster) who will be challenging at the end of the year.
    They will need to keep within touching distance for a major push at the business end of the season, but the presure will start to mount if they continue to lose narrowly when they’ve been dominating and playing well enough to win.

  4. This year was always going to be difficult for Glasgow with the World Cup. Play-offs will be a challenge.

    Positives are the emergence of Fraser Lyle as a decent player, Scott Cummings as a revelation, Harley as a leader and Adam Ashe as a true senior player.

    1. Play off race is going to be cracking this year. Glasgow are far from out of it, they are only two wins behind the pace and were better than two games ahead of Edinburgh, Scarlets and Connacht last season.

      The real loser is the Ospreys who will struggle to mount any challenge with their poor start and long term injury to Webb. Munster are the big winners and to a lesser extent Ulster but Glasgow has the squad to rein them back in.

      I think Connacht will fall away but Scarlets and Edinburgh will go the distance and we’ll have a real scrap for the play offs until the last weeks between the other 6. Last year the four play off teams were more or less a break away pack from relatively early on in the season. The RWC has mixed things up! Let’s hope we get two Scottish play off teams – never a better chance.

  5. I look forward to Barclay against Hardie. I think that will be much too emotional for JB. Edinburgh are well placed to make the play offs and why not.

    1. I get the feeling Barclay will be in the same club as Kelly Brown these days shuffler. Not sure what he did to get there mind you.

  6. That’s a really disappointing result for Edinburgh. Keeping a 1 -2 game buffer between Ulster, Leinster and Glasgow would have been highly desirable. Next week’s game against Connacht could already prove crucial for the top 6 place goal. I hoped they might challenge for the top four, but I fear that there may be a lack of sting in the backs for that.

    1. Poor result but it is waaaaay too early to start looking at specific games as being crucial results for finishing in the top 6. Form in the last 2-3 months is what has separated the best from the rest in the past couple of seasons, sides like Glasgow powering on and getting tricky points on the road when they need them, and sides like Connacht collapsing when the heat is on. Most sides have a few glaring losses along the way.

      It is really crucial that Edinburgh’s front line backs stay fit – with SHC, Scott, Helu, Hoyland they have some firepower. Without them they are toothless.

    2. I think Edinburgh will emerge this year, they have a good feel about them, and deserve their place in the leagues. If they could find a much smaller home than Murrayfield, similar to Scotstoun, they will really engage the crowd.

    3. Fair enough. Just looking at the table and the teams that we would likely be scrapping with for a place in the top 6 (assuming Glasgow, Leinster, Ulster and Munster will all be there or there abouts in the top 4) to me are Scarlets and Connacht. So any win against them is an 8 point turnaround in those particular battles, hence the significance in my mind. Agree that their are some dangerous players in the backline, I like Burleigh in the midfield too, though we could use another playmaker. Good to see Blair Kinghorn getting some game time at the weekend. Hopefully one to watch. The pack should be awesome. Especially once Gilchrist and Toolis return.

  7. Edinburgh don’t have the backline to be contenders IMO. They’re even weaker than last season now that Visser’s away. Hoyland and Dean might be the answer long term but lack experience at the minute. A pack of Dicko/Ford/Nel/Toolis/Gilchrist/Manu/Hardie/Denton with reinforcements McInally/Bressler/DuPreez/Coman/Watson is awesome but unless Ediburgh completely immerse themselves in a “Avivaball” game then they’ll be mid table mediocrity again.

  8. Agree with Andy. I don’t think Edinburgh have done enough recruitment in the backs. It’s all very well looking at the Academy boys to push through, but they need some better older players to lead by example. Although they have a pack to take on anyone, they’re very short of speed, guile and finesse in the backs.
    Burleigh, De Ture, Hoyland and Deans all look like decent players,but only Scott has any real top grade experience.
    Unless their big pack can dominate games, it won’t be a try fest at Edinburgh any time soon.

  9. The backs recruitment could have been better but I think selection and coaching is a bigger issue. Solomons is on record as saying hes not a specialist backs coach thats what Hodge has been brought in for. Tonks is a good full back and Burleigh is a quality 12. Both regulary play out of position. Helu is mostly a winger and covers 13. Allan is injured. Jade te Rure is 22 years old. When is he going to play? Previous 10s at Edinburgh have been behind a retreating pack. This pack is probably one of the best in the Pro 12, no better time to blood a player. Personally I would have tried to tie in Rory Clegg to the end of the season, but he’s off to France. I think a back line of 9. SHC 10. Jade Te Rure/Kinghorn (maybe too early) 12. Burleigh/Scott 13. Beard/Dean 11. Hoyland 14. Helu 15. Tonks is a pretty handy backline, you’ve got Scottish and Tongan internationals and ex super 15 players. Should be abe to do a job, especially at Pro 12 level. Just need the coaching.

    1. I think you might be right MK.

      3 seasons ago, I’m pretty sure I remember similar conversations being had about Glasgow. In that instance, they gave their kids a go (perhaps through necessity) and now they have so much talent in that back line, they can remain competitive when putting out their 3rd string.

      We have bemoaned the recruitment policies of Edinburgh in the last few years with the cast of (if one was going to be unsporting) mercenaries coming through but I’ve always felt that was because they were trying to buy time for the younger guys to get ready. Perhaps now is the time to let them shine. Get young, Scotland qualified talent running a backline that is protected by having a big, mean snarling pack to take some pressure off them.

      Given the resourcing and playing time challenges we have in Scotland, I think it’s great we are about to field two pro teams absolutely hoaching with Scottish talent. Hopefully, both clubs can get themselves into the Champions Cup.

  10. I think both teams will take time to get into the swing of things. It could be 2-3 weeks before they reach their true form but they will and they will become major forces in the pro-12 and in European rugby in general.

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Scottish Rugby News and Opinion