This weekend sees a final bout of European action before the serious business of the festive derbies and while for Glasgow their trip to Montpellier is largely a dead rubber, Edinburgh are still very much in the hunt in the lower level Challenge Cup competition.
Richard Cockerill has picked a decent strength side to face the Russian side Krasny Yar. He wouldn’t say it publicly but sitting on maximum points in the previous three games and Krasny Yar bottom of the pool, a bonus point win should see Edinburgh qualified for the knockout stages before Christmas and in some style.
Most of his internationals are rested with the 1872 Cup in mind so there is no Marfo, Toolis, McInally, Watson or Burleigh. Sam Hidalgo-Clyne is also absent but you would imagine all six will play some role against Glasgow. With Jason Tovey and Duncan Weir still on the injured list, Blair Kinghorn provides 10 cover for this game.
Of interest (to Gregor Townsend also) in the pack is Rory Sutherland starting on his long road back to fitness. When he last had a good run of games he was just solidifying a place on the Scotland bench with some good performances. Players like Allan Dell were struggling for games behind him and Al Dickinson while Jamie Bhatti and Darryl Marfo were unknown quantities. All three have since overtaken Sutherland and Dickinson in the current pecking order, with Dell a Lion (of sorts) and Marfo a cult hero in the making after the autumn. While Dickinson is still some way from a return and if he had any sort of form would probably shoot right back up the ranks, Sutherland will be sure to know that a good run in the next three games – set piece especially – puts him right back in the mix for the Six Nations.
In the backs Darcy Graham will get an opportunity to show his wares from fullback. It could give us a sneak preview of whether he may fit the “next Stuart Hogg” tag that has been allocated by some (from Hawick) at any point in the future, but it is still early in only his second full pro start.
No TV coverage of this one unless you can tap into a Russian stream and even then you might be out of luck/pushing it. But it has been switched to BT Murrayfield so there will be plenty of tickets if you want to brave the cold.
Edinburgh Rugby v Krasny Yar
Friday, 15 December
Kick off: 19:35
BT Murrayfield Stadium
Referee: David Wilkinson (Ireland)
Edinburgh Rugby: Darcy Graham; Damien Hoyland, James Johnstone, Chris Dean, Duhan Van Der Merwe; Jaco van der Walt, Sean Kennedy; Rory Sutherland, Neil Cochrane, Murray McCallum, Fraser McKenzie (c), Lewis Carmichael, Magnus Bradbury, Jamie Ritchie, Cornell Du Preez
Replacements: Cameron Fenton, Kevin Bryce, Matt Shields, Viliame Mata, Luke Crosbie, Nathan Fowles, Blair Kinghorn, Junior Rasolea
Krasny Yar: Vas Artemyev (c); Sunia Latu, Giorgi Pruidze, Kirill Golosnitskii, Evgenii Kolomiitcev; Lasha Malaguradze, Vasilii Dorofeev; Sione Fukofuka, Andrei Kondakov, Azamat Bitiev, Andrei Mahu, Andrei Garbuzov, Viktor Gresev, Viktor Arhip, Oleg Prepelitse
Replacements: Valeriy Tsnobiladze, Grigory Tsnobiladze, Mikheil Tsiklauri, Aleksandr Khudiakov, Egor Zykov, Anton Riabov, Igor Galinovskiy, Fangatapu Apikotoa