PRO14 Round 1 – Cardiff vs Edinburgh Preview

With pre-season out of the way, the hunt for the true identity of our pro teams, both under new management, can begin in earnest.

Edinburgh Rugby are first up tomorrow night with youthful captain Magnus Bradbury taking his team south to Cardiff, home of one of the most experienced captains going in the shape of Grand Slam and Lions tour winner Sam Warburton. Interestingly though, Gethin Jenkins is club captain at Cardiff.

It’s a good challenge for Edinburgh as, despite the presence of those two Welsh stalwarts, Cardiff were one of the poorer Welsh regions last season and will be looking for a similar upturn in their fortunes to our capital side. Struggles with the union over control, identity and a lack of big name signings; sounds familiar.

His primary mission to restore pride in Edinburgh as a club, Richard Cockerill has named his new captain and another of last year’s impressive youngsters in Jamie Ritchie to pack down alongside John Hardie in the back row and get it underway.

Jamie Ritchie and Magnus Bradbury

Jamie Ritchie and Magnus Bradbury – pic © Al Ross/Novantae Photography

Up front there is the welcome grizzle of WP Nel, absent for much of last season but hopefully fighting fit and ready to dominate. You imagine Cockerill must be delighted to have him in harness and he also has his top 3 second rows fit, with Ben Toolis on the bench this time around and the newly Scottish Anton Bresler starting.

Loosehead props Darryl Marfo (Scots qualified) and recently imported Italian Michele Rizzo (not) will make their Edinburgh debuts, suggesting clubless Ryan Grant has indeed sadly been deemed surplus to requirements by Cockerill after his brief cameo in Melrose at the weekend. Given that Sutherland and Dickinson are still long-term injured and Allan Dell is being gradually returned to action along with the other internationals, it’s a tricky spot to be in for Edinburgh. They have the players, just not right now; but if they did, they’d all struggle for game time. A good chance for the Black and Red Army to get a look at Marfo though, who has spent time at Bath, Quins and London Welsh.

Speaking of the Welsh, in the backs, former Wales Sevens player Jason Harries will face his countrymen as the third player making his full debut for Edinburgh.

Cockerill will be pleased to again call on the services of Dougie Fife on the other wing, although how long he will be able to keep him once the Sevens season kicks off is anyone’s guess. Fife was one of Alan Solomons’s odder choices to let go and may well fancy another crack at XVs.

The midfield still looks a little “last season” but the fitness of Robbie Freuan and Mark Bennett will hopefully have an impact in this area before the season is out. Glenn Bryce provided a few sparks last year from the bench and will also be looking to improve having settled in Edinburgh. Kinghorn is no longer guaranteed his fullback shirt but if he can kick on again having lapsed a bit last season he could be challenging for a spot in the Scotland squad quite soon.

Duncan Weir and Sam Hidalgo-Clyne provide the “give us a chance” half-back pairing. If they can find form and instill some sort of direction into the team, it could get both their careers back on track. If they can’t, Cockerill might start thumbing his rolodex…

Cardiff: Matthew Morgan; Alex Cuthbert, Rey Lee-Lo, Willis Halaholo, Aled Summerhill; Jarrod Evans, Lloyd Williams; Rhys Gill, Matthew Rees (capt), Taufa’ao Filise, Seb Davies, Damian Welch, Josh Turnbull, Josh Navidi, Nick Williams.
Replacements: Kirby Myhil, Corey Domachowski, Keiron Assiratti, Macauley Cook, Sion Bennett, Tomos Williams, Steve Shingler, Tom James.

Edinburgh: Blair Kinghorn, Dougie Fife, Chris Dean, Junior Rasolea, Jason Harries, Duncan Weir, Sam Hidalgo-Clyne; Darryl Marfo, Stuart McInally, WP Nel, Anton Bresler, Grant Gilchrist, Jamie Ritchie, John Hardie, Magnus Bradbury (capt).
Replacements: Ross Ford, Michele Rizzo, Simon Beghan, Ben Toolis, Cornell du Preez, Nathan Fowles, Jason Tovey, Glenn Bryce.

Referee: George Clancy (IRFU)

Friday 1st September, Cardiff Arms Park. Coverage live on BBC Alba

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16 comments on “PRO14 Round 1 – Cardiff vs Edinburgh Preview

  1. royster on

    Good luck Edinburgh. New season, new coach, new outlook….a positive start to the pro14 would be nice.

    Just to go ‘off-message’ for a sec: Anyone know why Huw Jones hasn’t pitched up at Glasgow yet?

  2. FF on

    Isn’t Jones still playing in currie cup for storm era. His contract doesn’t end until there interest in the competition does.

  3. James on

    That is quite a bench of forwards for Edinburgh to be able to bring on! That said, Cardiff are a team that have underperformed but there are some good players in that team as well.

    Hopefully Edinburgh will play like we all know they can and we’ll end up with a fantastic win to start the season.

  4. pragmatic optomist on

    A strong Edinburgh pack and a ‘youngish’ back line. I expect to see a lot more grit and game management this year. Hopefully the leadership side of things starts to shape up, although Bradbury being chosen as captain instead of the more experienced players isn’t exactly a compliment to the senior players.
    If any of them give less than 100% then Cockerill will not be slow in letting them know.
    Straight onto the synthetic turf, so a fast game it will be. Can’t see forwards dominating on that surface.

  5. Weary Warrior on

    As a Glasgow fan, I wish Edinburgh and Cockerill the very best of luck. There are some cracking players at Edinburgh – I hope Cockers gets the best out of them (except in the cup matches!)

    • Mikelinds on

      I think we all do, be good to see them have a great season. High time. Good for Scotland side as well.

      On another note, one of the ‘Weegies Fijis’ back at Glasgow.

  6. JohnMc on

    Worried about Edinburgh at half-back. SHC really needs to rediscover his form of two or three seasons ago. And Weir is a gamble. Not Test class, and signs last season he’s no longer even first team Pro 12/14 class. Hope he proves me wrong, as he is still a relative youngster.
    Everything else about the squad in the Cockerill regime is quite exciting, and I’m hoping for a good season to come.

  7. john on

    Curry, rugby & Hugh Dan – not a bad way to end the week.

    I agree 100% with JohnMc re half-back.

    Forwards will be competitive but backs look average.

    Hope I am wrong

    • Neil on

      Backline on Shc and weir (both on form) 12. freuan 13. bennett , wings hoyland and graham and kinghorn i guess at 15 and it dosent look half bad if freuan can set the platform for space outwide.

  8. BILLY DENHAM on

    Good to see George Turner get the start for Glasgow . He was 4th choice at Edinburgh so it makes perfect sense to re-allocate players when one team has too much depth and the other is light in that position. On the same theme I think it would be good for George Horne and Scottish Rugby if he moved to Edinburgh. At the moment he is behind Price , Pyrgos and potentially even Niko now. Having watched him at Glasgow and with the 7s i think he could easily be 1st choice at Edinburgh straight away . To realise their full potential players need to play at the highest possible level , i fear he will not get much quality game time this year at Glasgow.

  9. FF on

    Edinburgh have already made huge strides and the performances of the young guys were seriously impressive. Cardiff look like they are going to have a season to forget.

    Didn’t see Ulster game but they had almost as many saffers as the Cheetahs did! Add in their other SH imports and it looks like their academy line has dried up somewhat.

  10. newhavenboy on

    I say the first ten and the second half on Alba.

    Much Better!

    Ritchie looked good and the backs were pretty decent too. Including no-neck Weir. Both tries involved good finishing by Deans and Kinghorn.

    But I have to say it. Toolis is a quality operator now. Came on, pinched two lineouts and is I think the best player in that pack. And good enough to start this Autumn.

  11. Jamie on

    Ritchie was excellent, Gilcrest should be behind Carmichael. Once they get full team out they will challenge most teams. Still no shape in attack.

  12. JohnMc on

    Only able to watch the last 35 minutes live, yet already some good signs of a different, better Edinburgh this year. Defence much better organised and more committed. Some real grunt up front and great to see Hardie back in club action. SHC’s rep’s service was quick and straight, and from what I saw of Weir I need to be ready to eat my disparaging words earlier in the week.
    I know Blues are unlikely to be among the strongest in the Pro 14 this year, but this was an away win which has been an Edinburgh rarity in past seasons and, but for a mucked up lineout on the Cardiff line near the end, it could have been 25 or 27-10 which is getting into stuffing territory.
    Great start, Cockerill and co. Hoping to be as impressed by the Warriors this evening.

  13. john on

    looked properly coached & committed to the cause. Forwards were excellent & to think Marfo is 4th or 5th choice.

    Kinghorn is a game changer, had loads to do with both try & assist.

    McInally looked better than Ford last night.

    Weir kicking 1st class.

    Back row excellent

    With Watson, Fruen, Bennett, Van Der Merwe, Dell, Dicklinson, Sutherland, Hoyland all to return……..

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