Scottish Rugby News and Opinion


PRO14 Round 11: 1872 Cup Preview

Jonny Gray
Jonny Gray pictured during Edinburgh Rugby vs Glasgow Warriors in the 1872 Cup last year - pic © Alastair Ross | Novantae Photography

Ahead of the first leg of 3 to decide the 1872 Cup, Edinburgh and Glasgow have been busy tying up their squads for next season. Niko Matawalu hadn’t been a roaring success at either Bath or Exeter so his desire to stay longer at a club where he remains hugely popular isn’t hard to imagine, but Jonny Gray should have been swimming in offers from abroad – Bristol was often touted as a possible destination – and capturing him for a further 2 years is a major coup. It’s easy to forget he’s still only 23 and he is rewarded with the captaincy this weekend.

Along the road, Edinburgh’s signings are less starry but continue to pin down the young talent around which Cockerill wants to build a strong future for the club. Lock Lewis Carmichael (22) and the impressive back rows Jamie Ritchie (21) and Luke Crosbie (20) have all signed new 2 year or more deals for Edinburgh, and in Crosbie’s case, it is his first pro contract. Fellow back row Viliame Mata has also signed an extension, having reportedly impressed Cockerill since returning to fitness.

To the game itself, and Glasgow are targeting Ulster’s record start of 11 unbeaten league games but they will have to match it away from home at BT Murrayfield. Given the extra room, you imagine a fair few Warriors fans will make the trip to the familiar surroundings so it won’t be a total home crowd, and is expected to be on the large side. With all three autumn tests sold out and interest in the game on a high around Scotland and Glasgow in particular, it will be interesting to see just how large it gets…

The areas where Edinburgh might be seen to have an advantage would be the back and second rows – although not far apart up front, the scrum will depend on Sutherland’s sharpness. His face off with Fagerson could be fiesty. Glasgow’s first choice back row might well be Wilson, Gibbins and Ashe and all three are injured but young Matt Smith impressed in patches against Montpellier and deserves a crack at some of his age-grade teammates. Wilson has picked up an ankle injury that will keep him out until the early stages of Six Nations prep and possibly the tournament itself.  That in itself adds an extra layer of competition for Cornell du Preez, Jamie Ritchie, Rob Harley and the like to challenge for a Scotland place alongside Hamish Watson and John Barclay.

In the second row, if Scott Cummings is looking to force his way into Scotland contention, he’ll get a pretty good shot at the guys standing in his way.

The capital side are looking increasingly like a team with their mojo back under Cockerill but they haven’t been presented with a real stern challenge recently and the unbeaten Glasgow Warriors are packed with class throughout the team – even with Finn Russell saved for the bench in favour of Pete Horne.

Edinburgh’s mission is to prevent that class from asserting itself fully by choking off the source as Exeter, Leinster and Montpellier have managed to do but no one in the PRO14 has yet. Cockerill and his team have picked a very strong pack but the backline has a slightly makeshift feel to it. It’s a big chance for Sam Hidalgo-Clyne to reassert himself against Ali Price who is streets ahead of everyone else at the moment in the scrum-half berth, but outside that, a lot rests on the shoulders of James Johnstone and Blair Kinghorn. This weekend must have come just too soon for Mark Bennett who is rumoured to be fully fit again. He may well get a run off the bench at Scotstoun next weekend.

Would a good game for either Dougie Fife or Lee Jones on the wing see them come into contention for Scotland? Tommy Seymour has a fair bit to play for too.

Still, there remains a suspicion that this game will be won and lost up front.

Glasgow’s chief aim will be to cut out the silly errors, needless offloads and play more directly before flinging the ball about. It’s been less “chaos” than “mindless” so far, but the worry for Edinburgh is that the Warriors are so incisive it only needs to click a couple of times per game to get them over the try line and seal that win.

If they concentrate for a full 80 we know that they can be brilliant, we haven’t seen it this season – and yet they are still unbeaten.

Tussle to watch: Fraser Brown vs Stuart McInally. Winner takes the Scotland shirt in February, and at the moment it is Rambo’s to lose.

Key man: Jonny Gray. If the captain plays well the Glasgow pack plays well, and if they do that and get momentum going forward then they may have too much in the backline for Edinburgh.

Dark Horse: Blair Kinghorn. With Stuart Hogg still out injured he has a real chance to shine and he could cause Ruaridh Jackson real problems at the back.


Edinburgh Rugby: 15. Blair Kinghorn, 14. Dougie Fife, 13. James Johnstone, 12. Phil Burleigh, 11. Duhan van der Merwe, 10. Jaco van der Walt, 9. Sam Hidalgo-Clyne; 1. Rory Sutherland, 2. Stuart McInally (CAPT), 3. Simon Berghan, 4. Ben Toolis, 5. Grant Gilchrist, 6. Viliame Mata, 7. Hamish Watson, 8. Cornell du Preez.
Replacements: 16. Neil Cochrane, 17. Murray McCallum, 18. Matt Shields, 19. Fraser McKenzie, 20. Jamie Ritchie, 21. Nathan Fowles, 22. Chris Dean, 23. Darcy Graham.

Glasgow Warriors: 15. Ruaridh Jackson, 14. Tommy Seymour, 13. Huw Jones, 12. Alex Dunbar, 11. Lee Jones, 10. Peter Horne, 9. Ali Price; 1. Jamie Bhatti, 2. Fraser Brown, 3. Zander Fagerson, 4. Scott Cummings, 5. Jonny Gray (CAPT), 6. Robert Harley, 7. Matt Smith, 8. Samu Vunisa.
Replacements: 16. Pat MacArthur, 17. Oli Kebble, 18. Siua Halanukonuka, 19. Kiran McDonald, 20. Chris Fusaro, 21. Henry Pyrgos, 22. Finn Russell, 23. Niko Matawalu.

Glasgow players not available due to injury: Adam Ashe (ankle), Brian Alainu’uise (knee), Callum Gibbins (achilles), Stuart Hogg (hip), Rory Hughes (shoulder), Sam Johnson (jaw), Paddy Kelly (achilles), Lelia Masaga (knee), Greg Peterson (ankle), Leo Sarto (shoulder), Tim Swinson (hand), Ratu Tagive (Achilles) and Ryan Wilson (ankle).

Live on BBC ALBA and Sky Sports, kick-off 5.15pm.

35 Responses

  1. Lots of intriguing battles, and there’s a huge amount of try scoring talent out there. But current form hasn’t always been relevant in this fixture.
    Helluva leap for Matt Shields from Rotherham’s current dismal season to the 1872.

    A potential dark horse for me is Johnstone – I’m sure he will show he’s got a step, but can he also defend the wide open BTM spaces ?

    And talking of wide open spaces, Niko Matawalu against tiring defenders in the last 15 minutes . . . rather them than me ! Although I could probably just change Matawalu to Darcey Graham and it would be the same thing.

    As a neutral exiled Reiver, I’m REALLY looking forward to this. Almost an old school Scottish trial match.

  2. I cannot believe how excited I am by this game. Massive individual battles and some really exciting players on show. Wish I could make it to the game. On the couch with Sky and a wee dram or two will have to suffice. Won’t even need to persuade Mrs Merlot as Strictly is finished!!
    Good luck Glasgow but think this is Edinburgh by a try. Hopefully.
    No injuries please.

    1. No injuries please – absolutely! But a great opportunity to establish a pecking order in a number of positions. Pour a drink, phone on silent, bring it on!

  3. A lot is made of the Edinburgh backrow being absolute beasts but Glasgow are not bad in there themselves, Matt Smith had a great game last week and Vunisa improving game on game and thats before we mention the pest Harley can be. Edinburgh will have to stop the ball getting to the Glasgow backs and if they do they’ll have a good chance, if not then I reckon it will be Glasgow by 10+ easily.

    Looking forward to it, hopefully see some of you there.

  4. The key part in this article for me is choking off the source, which is why in the other article I went with Ritchie rather than Mata.

    Mata is great in the loose, but I’m not sure how good he is at the breakdown. Ritchie on the other hand has been phenomenal at slowing down ball and winning turnovers, his energy and ability to make a nuisance of himself would have be ideal alongside Watson. Glasgow play with a pace that many struggle with and stopping that, really impacts their game.

    I’m interested to see how Sutherland and Fagerson go against each other. Fagerson can get a bit worked up and if Sutherland is smart or gets the better of him then it could really work in Edinburgh’s advantage. With that said, Fagerson is a good scrummager and Sutherland has only just come back from what sounds like a horrible injury.

    On paper Edinburgh have the advantage in the pack, but it’s close. Glasgow without question have the advantage from 9 back. Deciding factor is likely to be when the front rows begin to tire, Glasgow can bring on Kebble and Siua Halanukonuka (yes I did copy and paste his name), whereas Edinburgh can bring on a player just out of the academy who primarily plays TH at loose Head and a lad that Rotherham seem to have been happy to lend us.

  5. Tussle to watch (other than Rory’s Mcinally vs Brown):
    Kinghorn vs Jackson – a fight to see who will be on the bench in the 6N, if Hogg is fit and Maitland is out.
    Lee Jones vs Dougie Fife – if Seymour doesn’t get over his Lions hangover and Visser doesn’t get the nod, these could be our 2 6N wingers.
    Johnstone vs Huw jones – can Johnstone step up and nullify the threat of Jones, thereby giving (yet another) centre conundrum for Gregor?
    Harley vs Watson – OK I know they are not the same position but if Harley can negate/harass Hamish then perhaps he can prove he’s still a better partner for Barclay in the 6N.
    Cummings vs Gilchrist – new vs old. Toolis and Gray are in the driving seats for the 6N. Whether Cummings can step up at such a young age, or Grant can find the form of 2014-15 will dictate who is 3rd/bench choice. Can either overtake Ben and/or Jonny?
    The front rows are pretty even, and even the Berghan-Bhatti battle looks tasty.
    For me the Glasgow bench is better – almost across the board. If Glasgow are within a score with 20 minutes to go they’ll have it, so Edinburgh better be 10 points+ ahead at that point.

  6. Glasgows’ bench so much stronger, especially the front row and 9/10. That could be crucial if Edinburgh haven’t got a healthy lead by the time the replacements start.

    One thing that made me giggle today was Luke Crosbie’s wikpedia page. Quite obviously done by his mates. Height: Length, Weight: Fat :o)

    1. McCallum is a superprop. Yet to take a backward step in his career at scrum time and happy on either side. He’s the real deal and could be a cornerstone for Edinburgh and Scotland.

      1. I think Ade has a point the Glasgow 23 all have credibility.

        Pyrgos is yet to hit form, might as well be this week. At least Pyrgos had form to lose, you have ‘Flatline’ Fyfe.

        The Murrayfield dead ball was made for Matawalu in a chip and chase.

  7. Well it looks like the bookies are going for Glasgow , not a lot in it though. For me Glasgow are used to setbacks and change. I think Edinburgh is about certain key players being on form and leading by example. Hooker is I believe, is the key battle and McInally is miles ahead.

  8. I’m just excited, pure and simply.

    This has the makings of an absolute cracker, particularly if its dry and there’s little wind. Both teams will try to run from the back. Glasgow have the stronger overall back-line, but Edinburgh’s pack is a beast and could be crucial to stopping the ball from getting to the Glasgow backs.

    For 80 minutes, I will be solely an Edinburgh fan, hoping to get one over “that lot”. But a belting game of rugby, to show the resurgence in Scotland, is top of my list of priorities.

    I’ve even persuaded my 3 and 5-year-old kids that this qualifies as family Christmas viewing :)

  9. At last a meaningful 1872 fixture with the edge of a true rugby derby. Cockerill has worked wonders to build credibility and a team ethos, but this is a major step up for Edinburgh and will provide a test for the players. Glasgow better be up for a battle and we can anticipate levels of physicality approaching a test match. At the end we will discover much about the character of the players and if they have it in them to be of true international standard.

    Excellent article interviewing Cockerill on the BBC Scotland website. Something exciting is happening after years of ignominy in the east. Hoping lapsed Edinburgh supporters come out and get behind their team as their team has a genuine chance.

  10. Interesting to see some burning resentment from Edinburgh fans. I didn’t realise any of you cared so much!

    League position and performances says Glasgow will win with a bonus point.

    I am not convinced Edinburgh have the ability up front to ‘do a Exeter/Leinster’ to Glasgow. If Glasgow get on the front foot early I expect a big performance from Glasgow and a comfortable enough win.

    I do agree McInally is the man in possession but I don’t see much between him and Brown. Very positive for 6N with Ford in reserve should one or both get injured.

    The dose of reality for Edinburgh is that if everyone is fit for then first choices for scotland are Front row (just and only as a unit) and Watson.

    Glasgow have Gray, Wilson, and probably 6 out of the 7 from 9-15.

    Glasgow have beaten everyone in pro14 and ran both Exeter and Montpellier close. I very much doubt Glasgow are running scared of Edinburgh.

    1. We’ll see if McInally backs up his Autumn form. If he does then I think he is quite a bit ahead of Brown because of his new found set piece prowess. Brown is an excellent player but doesn’t really excel at scrum, line out or maul where he is good enough but not much more. It is a bit of a luxury to have a hooker whose strengths are in the loose and breakdown.

      I’d say Toolis may also have edged ahead of Richie Gray, again assuming his recent form continues. If you are comparing Edinburgh and Glasgow packs and the former have 4 of the front 5 and a superior back row you can start to see why Glasgow have struggled against Edinburgh in recent years despite clearly being the preeminent Scottish side.

      I think this match will be highly competitive. I doubt Glasgow will be drawing any confidence from their European performances where they have been also rans this year.

      1. Good points. However, my view, and it is only my view, is that Brown is a very good scrummager. Over the past couple of years Glasgow’s scrum goes so much better when he is on the field.

        I do like Townsend’s unit approach. Shame Nel isn’t fit and not sure who is Edinburgh’s first choice loosehead. A bench of Bhatti/Brown/Fagerson is something we couldn’t have dreamed of 3 years ago. I was very pleased that Townsend brought on Bhatti and Fagerson at half time against Australia- it was play the conditions, bring on your mobile props when the opposition is down to 14 men. Was great to see.

      2. The big question is was Glasgow’s European let down better preparation than Edinburgh who overpowered some also rans.

        Do Glasgow feel bitter and mean at the harsh criticism ! Do Edinburgh feel overpowering the soviet mean machine makes them hard as a Leith docker’s toecaps. Have Glasgow had their tea !

        I can see some a few scuffles arising , however inclined to take the bookies advice and say Edinburgh’s tea is oot,

        FF : I think you are under exaggerating the McInally Brown dynamic. Fraser brown is good but inconsistent. McInally has taken his opportunity to set standards which I cannot see anyone else meeting. Time will tell.

    2. Didnt see any resentment . I am an Edinburgh fan first but am right behind Glasgow against every other opponent.
      Hoping for an Edinburgh win but form says Glasgow will be too strong.

  11. Who would have thought at the beginning of the season that we would even be having this sort of debate? It says a huge amount about the progress Edinburgh have made (and also Glasgow’s inconsistency) that nearly everyone has this pegged as a potential cracker ( Christmas pun intended…..).
    I do think Glasgow will edge it – possibly by a bigger margin on the scoresheet than in terms of the performances if the backs get a few sniffs.
    Although the Scotland matchups will of course be very interesting, I think one area Glasgow have the edge is with their foreign players ( even without Sarto and Gibbins).
    Looking forward to it – and for once don’t really mind who wins.

  12. Off topic, but could we have a ‘depth chart’ article. Think it would be very interesting to see 1-3 (and even 1-5 by my reckoning in some positions) in the lead up to the 6N. Thanks editors, great job this year!

    1. In the comments section after the Oz game someone posted 3 XV’s with someone else adding a 4th and 5th XV.

      1 and 2 looked like very good teams, 3 looked like a team that hat wouldn’t let you down and 4 and 5 had some surprisingly good players in them. I also have a vague memory that some good players had been missed (some of those playing in the AP I think).

      Unfortunately I can’t remember what article it was.

      Might also be good to get a “where are they now” in terms of recovery for some of the injured players.

  13. This is Edinburgh’s game to win and Glasgow’s game to lose plain and simple, Glasgow are the in form team and have the majority of the international players whereas Edinburgh have struggled the past few seasons.

    Bottom line is Edinburgh will need to make sure they pull past the 15 points margin to beat Glasgow out of sight. I’d go 25/1 in Edinburgh winning and 1/3 on a Glasgow win, for a draw I’d say roughly 18/1 given that we seen it a few years back.

  14. What is the thinking behind Peter Horne starting ahead of Finn Rusell?
    Oh, well done Huw Jones! World class

  15. Kind of pissed off at the TMO ruining the game by almost insisting to the ref to give Berghan a red card, yes its the right desicion but the referee was swaying for a yellow and the TMO shouldnt be allowed to do what he did.

    1. The red card ends the game as a contest. Losing Hamish Watson as a front-row sacrifice deprives us of watching a world-class open side.
      Another drink? Don’t mind if I do.

  16. Might be watching with my black and red glasses on but seems like Glasgow can do no wrong in the eyes of the ref but every wee thing for Edinburgh gets pinged! How long do you get and how far up the pitch do you have to make it for advantage over?

  17. On the plus side, it at least puts the Australia into perspective in terms of beating 14 men…

  18. Sloppy Glasgow. Edinburgh were just more determined and persistent. Nothing inspiring from either team.

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