Scottish Rugby News and Opinion


Pro 14 Round 4: Scarlets vs Edinburgh

Chris Dean
Chris Dean - pic © ALASTAIR ROSS | Novantae Photography
Richard Cockerill threatened to swing the axe after last week’s miserable home loss to Treviso, and he’s done the best job he could with a limited squad.
He knows that filling the team wholesale with peripheral players against the reigning league champions would be almost as suicidal as squirting water at James Haskell (but not as funny). But many of last week’s underperformers have been rewarded with bench spots and some, like Anton Bresler and Damien Hoyland, are gone altogether.
Up front it actually looks somewhere close to Edinburgh’s best starting pack based on the limited form of the season so far, although as usual there are question marks over 1 and 2. Benching Ross Ford tends to work quite well at International level as it seems to be a way to get a response out of him so let’s hope that works again. Jamie Ritchie was superb in the two games he has played and Bradbury is restored to 8. Hamish Watson could do with rediscovering some of last season’s form quickly up against a back row including Aaron Shingler and Scotland captain John Barclay.
In the backs, Tom Brown comes in on the wing and Damien Hoyland drops out altogether, although he’s maybe a little comforted by the fact that Cockers couldn’t keep hold of any of the three Sevens lads (all wingers) previously training with Edinburgh. Jason Harries continues on the other wing having impressed and puzzled in equal measure so far. He’s looked sharp and pacy except when clear on goal (as the other lot would say) and then he always seems to get caught. Get that man a Tim Visser highlights reel.
Robbie Fruean drops to the bench, poised to make a sizeable impact from there but the backline has – as has often been the case in recent seasons – a slightly one-dimensional feel to it. Blair Kinghorn remains the current provider-in-chief of X Factor although to be fair to Chris Dean he is profiting from the extra space that a close defensive watch on Kinghorn provides with 2 tries last weekend. Running the show will be Duncan Weir who has, as always, showed plenty of heart.
It all looks a bit scary against a Scarlets team making full use of their Lions contingent with Jonathan Davies, Leigh Halfpenny and Ken Owens alongside Barclay set to welcome Edinburgh on Saturday.
Edinburgh should not be defeatist in their outlook, but a win here would be a major upset and be a huge step towards righting some of last weekend’s wrongs.
Scarlets: 15 Leigh Halfpenny, 14 Johnny Mcnicholl, 13 Jonathan Davies, 12 Hadleigh Parkes, 11 Steff Evans, 10 Rhys Patchell, 9 Gareth Davies, 1 Rob Evans, 2 Ken Owens (capt), 3 Samson Lee, 4 Jake Ball, 5 Tadhg Beirne, 6 Aaron Shingler, 7 Will Boyde, 8 John Barclay.
Replacements: Ryan Elias, Wyn Jones, Werner Kruger, David Bulbring, Josh Macleod, Aled Davies, Rhys Jones, Paul Asquith
Edinburgh: 15 Blair Kinghorn, 14 Tom Brown, 13 Chris Dean, 12 Phil Burleigh, 11 Jason Harries, 10 Duncan Weir, 9 Nathan Fowles; 1 Michele Rizzo, 2 Stuart McInally, 3 WP Nel, 4 Ben Toolis, 5 Grant Gilchrist, 6 Jamie Ritchie, 7 Hamish Watson, 8 Magnus Bradbury (capt).
Replacements: 16 Ross Ford, 17 Darryl Marfo, 18 Simon Berghan, 19 Fraser McKenzie, 20 John Hardie, 21 Sam Hidalgo-Clyne, 22 Jason Tovey, 23 Robbie Fruean
Parc y Scarlets, Saturday 23 September (kick-off 7.35pm, live coverage in Welsh via S4C).
Referee: John Lacey (IRFU)

25 Responses

  1. This is looking like a tough gig for Edinburgh. The pack looks strong, but then so does the Scarlets’.
    Hopefully facing Barclay will bring out the true Hamish.
    It’s good to see Gilchrist fit and getting some game time. However, I’m not sure how well he fits into the ‘Scottish’ style purveyed by Townsend, BVC and now Rennie. I watched (or read) an interview with Rennie where he said that he wanted all of his forwards to have the handling skills of the backs, so that they could attack from a broader range of circumstances and positions on the field. Of course Rennie is not the coach of Edinburgh, but I think at an international level Gilchrist would be one of the least well equipped of our current second row contenders to deliver this. He’s good at the heavy work, but seems very predictable, almost never off loads and is frequently turned over. I don’t have stats to support that – it’s just an impression.
    I really hope Edinburgh can put last weekend behind them and pull one out of the bag here against stiff odds. Although there are a few changes, this isn’t a particularly different flavour to what we’ve seen so far under Cockerhill, indicating how narrow his choices really are.
    Also, hope Harries will finally score this weekend!

  2. At least Edinburgh are not facing dth van der merve.I see he is in the newcastle side this weekend.Great to see this old warrior still in action.Happy memories.

  3. Boy, this is going to be a tough test for Edinburgh. Hoping that the selection adjustments come off and that collectively the Treviso experience is left well behind and learned from. Guessing there were some gruelling training sessions this week, and hoping that Cockerill hasn’t, as SOB might say, ‘done a Gatland.’
    Mone Embra the day!

  4. On paper, should be a reasonable pack, though back row possibly a bit lightweight. It’s the back line that still doesn’t convince, hope I’m proved wrong & RC has dished out enough bollockings & also words of wisdom to give the team more of a backbone. Not expecting a win but a vastly improved performance from last week is a must.

  5. is it just me or when rizzo cleared davies out of that scrum he didint charge in with the elbow and contact with face but had his arms out and made contact with the chest/shoulder area and davies made a show of it ?

    Lacey has been abit in favour of scarlets from the start i feel , a few things around rucks where he is favouring scarlets, refusing to check tmo for 2nd try when on replay it looks like nel might of made the tackle and now the red 45 mins in.

    this does not mean edinburgh have not been bad , they just seem unorganised and lazy in patches, and some players just are not good enough, if player just put in the workrate and effort watson and ritchie are doing we would be right in these kind of games

    1. Yeah i had my doubts about whether he actually used the shoulder, but he did drop the shoulder and davies was nowhere near the ball, so it was reckless daft.

      1. Lacey saw what he wanted to see. I don’t think it merited a card – unnecessary but it was clearly hands on chest and no connection with the head. With that red card, there was no way Davies could stay on the pitch and keep a straight face! And that second try?? Clear obstruction with Patchell going round the Scarlets hooker who’d blocked Nel. I was gobsmacked there was not even a referral to the TMO for decency’s sake if nothing else. Nel even had his arms up so it’s not like Lacey didn’t see it. Scarlets’ dummy runners all match not only blocked Edinburgh’s defenders but in many instances actually ran into and held on to them! After the sublime class of Owen yesterday normal Pro14 service resumed with a bump. Lacey is truly abysmal and should be sacked. I still think Scarlets deserved the win though and would have done so even without Lacey’s ‘help’.

  6. If i was Cockerill id be sacking the laziest person who has the worst workrate tomorrow after review .

    these edinburgh players need to get into their heads to be fighting for every little thing , not taking 30 seconds to run to their own lineout when 20 points down.

    players such as tom brown and watson should be looked at as examples of what we need , i dont see many people working consistently harder than those 2.

    1. To be honest I thought they scrapped pretty well when down to 14. They only conceded two tries away to the champions after losing Rizzo on 45mins. It could have got really ugly but they didn’t fold. Plenty of deficiencies in the rest of their performance mind, but I don’t think a lack of guts was one of them.

    2. Yeah i had my doubts about whether he actually used the shoulder, but he did drop the shoulder and davies was nowhere near the ball, so it was reckless daft.

      1. Comment seems to have been duplicated. This one was supposed to be in agreement that Edinburgh had the right attitude, but poor execution at times, a bit of a lack of edge, and no chance after the red. I thought Bradbury and Hamish really picked up and Ritchie and Brown played well too. Chris Dean is also developing well. And Harries finally scored!

  7. To add to Cocker’s troubles it looks like Edinburgh have got the harder conference B with only the Kings and Dragons looking a soft touch…In contrast conference A has Glasgow and Munster (good)…then the Cheetahs (hot and cold)…and the rest look pretty poor (i.e. worse than Treviso)

  8. Thought the red card was unlucky and a bit contrived. It was only even noticeable on slo-mo, and it’s debatable whether it hit his head, or even whether impact was with shoulder or hands. Lacey and TMO certainly milked it when they didn’t need to.
    If refs are going to penalise everything at ruck clear out time, they need to be more consistent. There were several incidents even in yesterdays game which could have been construed differently if looked at in super slo-mo.
    Also thought Lacey was largely responsible for Llanneli first try, when the he shouted ‘let him go’ to allow the Welsh scrum half loose. He wasn’t then caught until the 5m line because of it.
    All in all, a bit of a homer performance from the ref.
    Saying that, I thought it was a very sharp performance from Gareth Davies, and he made Fowles look like he was playing in slow-mo. He was terribly slow and needs to sharpen up and play much faster.

  9. A pretty clear illustration of Edinburgh’s shortcomings. It was always going to be a tough ask to win once Rizzo got himself red carded. I’m not sure it was clear cut but ultimately if you put yourself in a situation where it could be interpreted like that, don’t be surprised if you get sent off.
    Agree with those above saying the attitude wasn’t a problem – lots of good honest tackling – but Scarlets generally light years better man-for-man. I thought Jamie Ritchie looked good again, he seemed to be involved in just about every breakdown.
    Fowles and Weir were awful. Weir is an honest trier but a good flyhalf doesn’t knock the ball on in midfield under no pressure as he did at one point last night. Edinburgh need better options in the halves than SHC (who to be fair does look as though he’s inching back to 2015 form) Fowles, Weir and Tovey. The SRU should be pulling out all the stops to make sure that Charlie Shiel signs a pro deal with Edinburgh next summer, and I don’t know what you do about getting a 10. Does anyone who watches club rugby know if Jason Baggott is any good?
    Grant Gilchrist was anonymous (I think it was him that Patchell charged through for the first try). Surely it might be worth Cockerill giving Hunter-Hill a go at some point?

  10. I would hope that next season Edinburgh sign a good quality Kiwi 10, Weir is a back up 10, not a starter. As mentioned above they also need a quality nine.

    Main problems last night (in first half) were the ill discipline, poor handling and decision making and lack of attacking shape. id get rid of Hodge and bring in an attack coach and a skills coach.

    1. Jackson should have signed for Edinburgh instead of Glasgow, tho was a poor move by the SRU, Glasgow have an abundance of good No.10’s, all of whom as are of a standard that they could be starting in Finn Russell, Josh Henderson, Adam Hastings and potentially (when needed) Peter Horne. I think Jackson, Henderson or Hastings could be transferred to Edinburgh.

      In reality as a Glasgow fan Duncan Weir had his day a long time ago and was a good replacement for Parks but now it’s the time for the future, imagine the competition of having the likes of Adam Hastings going head to head with Finn Russell etc?

      1. Henderson has never had a pro start. Eastgate was generally preferred to him at the u-20s JWC. There’s simply no way he could be expected to challenge for a starting berth immediately if he was transferred to Edinburgh. Hastings is probably being lined up as Russell’s successor as French and English clubs have been circling and Finn is out of contract at the end of the season. The reality is Edinburgh aren’t going to solve their 10 issue by cannibalising Glasgow unless Jackson was somehow persuaded to move which seems vanishingly unlikely. Why would you move to Edinburgh if you were under contract at Glasgow?

  11. @FF, I strongly disagree! I would put 1/2 of the young guns i.e.; Henderson / Hastings out on loan to Edinburgh for the season and give them a starting slot, this gives them time to develop how they play without being “expected” to win every week and trying to fill the shoes of Finn Russell.

    I completely agree however with the theory over Connor Eastgate, I think everyone has missed a shining star in this boy and he should be brought straight to Glasgow! Think about it Glasgow would then have Russell / Eastgate and Edinburgh would have Hastings / Henderson, this had surely got to be a better way of evenly allowing the spread of talent to come up and through?

    The bottom line is it’s no good having all of our talent at Glasgow (I’m a Glasgow fan!), what this causes is complacency in the Glasgow squad for Scotland places, look for example when Edinburgh turned into the Edin-Boks a few seasons back, these were really poor times for player development, now we have an amazing opportunity to split out talent evenly and allow them to fight it out (against each other) as to who is actually the best. It also gives the Scotland selectors questions to ask instead of just automatically picking Russell and maybe 1/2 others who really are not anywhere near as talented as him… Now is the time to be thinking about the future otherwise we end up in the 2007-14 days where we really didn’t have a clue what we were doing for the future!

    1. I heard a phrase a few years back from a Coach of an Ayrshire club and it goes

      “It’s better to have two excellent young players playing for two separate good to average clubs than to have two excellent young players playing for one great club”

      I didn’t understand his dilemma at the time but he explained that this all relates to the distribution of talent, thus there is no point in having a great player if he is sitting on the bench maybe getting 10-20 minutes every week, it is better that this player goes to a team where he will get 60-80 minutes every week. Take Toulon for an example, yes it’s a great accolade to play there but realistically how would a “good” Scottish player fair there?

      I’d use the same model for Glasgow and Edinburgh, people will see this is for the best in time…

  12. How was there no penalty or card for the neckroll on SHC when he won a turnover from a ruck?! If the Rizzo was a red that was certainly a yellow! To be fair to the Welsh tv coverage they highlighted it, although as a cynic I expect they were looking for a foul by SHC.

    The Scarlets looked miles ahead in speed of thought and deed and physicality… Bit like a poor mans Glasgow!

      1. I think hardie replaced him after a few minutes but he should of been taken off immediately, the ref even ran past looking at him as he crumpled to the ground face first and not really moving for around 5-10 seconds

  13. So in Greenwich Village and I just bumped into, complete coincidence, Oli Kebble’s near family and I can confirm he absolutely is a project player and will play for Scotland the the moment that they cap him.

    1. Interesting stuff. Are the SRU not expecting much from the youngsters they’re developing at the moment, then?

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Scottish Rugby News and Opinion