Scottish Rugby News and Opinion


PRO14 Round 12: 1872 Cup Part II

Finn Russell
Finn Russell grapples with Jaco van der Walt - pic © Alastair Ross / Novantae Photography

Edinburgh are now officially short of props with Simon Berghan sitting out a ban that means he will miss the first weekend of Six Nations action; although he did get the maximum mitigation possible, reducing it from 12 weeks down to 6. There is also a lengthy list of injured props that will affect Edinburgh and Scotland: WP Nel, Al Dickinson, Darryl Marfo and Allan Dell among them.

With that in mind, Edinburgh have this week signed Samoan international prop Jordan Lay from New Zealand-based outfit the Bay of Plenty Steamers, and he joins the club until the end of the season. He featured for Samoa in their autumn defeat to Scotland, on the loosehead side and he also has a brother, James, who plays for Samoa where both were born – although they have lived most of their lives in New Zealand. Lay is straight on to the bench for the rematch with Glasgow on Saturday at Scotstoun.

In other transfer news, second row Anton Bresler has left Edinburgh to join Alan Solomons at Worcester. He’s done good work for the club, but it doesn’t look like he’ll get that Scotland cap after all.

Back to this weekend and Cockerill hasn’t made too many changes, sticking with the guys who came back strongly following Berghan’s early sendoff and snatched the unlikeliest of victories.

Up front Matt Shields and the versatile Murray McCallum start (see prop crisis above), while Jamie Ritchie is promoted from the bench to start in the back row alongside Hamish Watson who was robbed of gametime last week by Berghan’s blunder.

In the backs, Damien Hoyland comes in (for Dougie Fife) as does James Johnstone who like Fife has just been signed to Edinburgh on a full contract. There’s still no sign of Mark Bennett, however. When he last played competitive rugby it was for Vern Cotter in the horrors of defeat to England and he was perhaps out of favour at Glasgow who had just signed Edinburgh-born Huw Jones from Western Province. Edinburgh was seen as a step down for Bennett, struggling under Solomons and then acting coach Duncan Hodge.

Times have changed a little for Edinburgh, who will have taken huge pride from the way they stayed in the game down to 14 men and will now look to put down a marker at Scotstoun.

Glasgow for their part will have severe wounds in the pride department and Dave Rennie has made a number of changes. Huw Jones dropping to the bench is probably the most notable one but he does add further power to an already pretty handy set of replacements.

Elsewhere Nick Grigg, Niko Matawalu and Finn Russell are aiming to bring the party spirit back to Scotstoun, but there are growing question marks over the Chiefs-style all-court approach being over-used. A nicely controlled performance from Finn would no doubt sooth neutral hearts going into the new year and the challenges beyond.

Probably the best festive fillip ahead of this game is seeing three young Scottish age grade talents in Matt Smith, Matt Fagerson (Glasgow) and Jamie Ritchie (Edinburgh) matching up in the back row. With Watson also perhaps out to prove a point, it could be quite the stramash.

The last one wasn’t short of drama but it wasn’t the highest quality of rugby. Let’s hope we get a proper showcase to end the year on.

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

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

At Scotstoun Stadium on Saturday 30 December (kick-off 3.15pm) – live on Sky Sports

19 Responses

  1. Given Glasgow’s injury list not too sure what else they could do after last week. Just hoping that the likes of Hogg, Seymour and Wilson can get some game time before the Six Nations.

    Brian Alainu’uise (knee), Adam Ashe (ankle), Callum Gibbins (achilles), Stuart Hogg (hip), Paddy Kelly (Achilles), Tommy Seymour (foot), Rory Hughes (shoulder), Sam Johnson (jaw), Lelia Masaga (knee), Leo Sarto (shoulder), Tim Swinson (hand), Ratu Tagive (achilles) and Ryan Wilson (ankle).

  2. I guess the main talking points are around the Glasgow selection of backs. Jones drops to the bench which is a surprise although I don’t think he’s gelled with the rest of the backs yet which is also a surprise because he knows them all from Scotland.

    No great surprise that Horne drops to the bench after a shocker with Russell reinstated. I thought that they might have fancied giving Hastings a go though from the bench.

    Also no great surprise that Horne Junior makes the bench ahead of Pyrgos. I suspect this is the new pecking order.

    Last talking point is around the wingers. I can see why Niko gets a start given than Sarto, Seymour and Hughes are injured. Should be fun to watch.

    1. H Jones is in his 11th straight month of rugby (or injury recovery)…with another 6 to go…I think a bit of rest over the next few weeks is maybe needed.

      1. He would have had a decent break after doing his hammy in the culcutta cup game , probably 6-8 weeks . Then there would have been a rehab period where there was no contact .

      2. I’ve never rehabed a major injury…my impression is its not really a “break” but in fact quite a stressful and difficult time…so in terms of mental fatigue it may still count.

      3. You have all the effort of training, usually on your own, without the benefit of a match to look forward to. It is a lonely time, mentally very tough.

        My own view is HJ will not find it easy to settle in Scotland, different pressures on and off the pitch.

    1. Surely as a Scottish U20 cap with a full international father the Scottish scouts must have been speaking to him.

    2. Eddie is a good coach but is the smallest of small men…I don’t know much about Graham but he’s 25 and so far as I know has not been in recent international back row discussions.

      I presume this is just another EJ game…and I hope that GG has a clear and truthful understanding from EJ of what this “opportunity” really represents…or otherwise has his head in the right place to not feel used.

      1. Well he isn’t tied until he’s capped, which isn’t going to be in the 6N anyway…

        Is he any good?

    3. I thought Shingler of Scarlets wasn’t allowed to play for Scotland because he had received A Wales U-20 cap?

      1. Wales had chosen their u-20s as their second team which ‘captured’ players (ours was Scotland A). At the time, U-20s sides only did so if they played another u-20 side nominated as a second national team. Wales played France who had also nominated their u20s as their second team.

        It’s a mess but now u20s sides cannot he used to capture player but the rule is not retrospective.

  3. As Rennie says, if Warriors have title aspirations, they simply have to show far more this weekend. With Russell back in together with Niko & a far more dynamic (although young) back row and with HJ & wee George coming on in 2nd half, if they hold onto the ball they’ll play quick & try to run Embra aff their feet. I’m sure the Embra back row (particularly Hamish W) will be on ‘mission slow the ba’ doon’. Can only see a home win. Credit Embra for last week tho’. It could be the game that kickstarts both teams’ season (for different reasons)!

  4. Edinburgh now have the lead and I don’t see them giving it up, seeing how tenacious they were in part 1. I also think that the second and third rows of the Edinburgh scrum are too much for their weegie opposites to handle. Another narrow Edinburgh victory.

  5. If I were RC I would want Edinburgh to play tight 10 man rugby.

    Rennie says Glasgow lost last week by kicking it away.

    Forecast is heavy showers which plays more towards kicking and slugging it out. Westerly wind lessening in the second half. So winning the toss will be important.

    Lets hope for a bit of entertainment to close out the year but everything suggests we are in for a tight game.

    Wonder why Fife is out of the 23 ? he just signed to remain at Edinburgh. I noticed he was hooked at same time as Matawalu came on last week. Maybe a co-incidence.

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