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PRO14 Round 5: Teams for the Weekend

Bill Mata
Bill Mata in action for Edinburgh- pic © Alastair Ross / Novantae Photography

Richard Cockerill was pragmatic following his team’s defeat to Leinster last weekend, and has duly restored a number of his frontline troops for a must-win game at home to Benetton Rugby (the artists formerly known as Treviso). This means the return of Blair Kinghorn, Matt Scott and Henry Pyrgos in the back line and Simon Hickey preferred at standoff although Jaco van der Walt has recovered sufficiently from a head knock to sit on the bench.

Mark Bennett’s injury gives Chris Dean and Juan Pablo Socino a chance to stake a claim to be part of a settled centre partnership with Scott – something Edinburgh badly need – into the new year and beyond. No place on the bench this week for Jamie Farndale who was announced as one of the Sevens Squad co-captains this week, so Cockers will have to make do with pinching Dougie Fife and James Johnstone from the short form last season.

Up front, Grant Gilchrist, Hamish Watson and Viliame Mata return to add their considerable heft to the home side. All in all it’s pretty close to their top XV but with good reason; despite some decent, competitive performances, the results haven’t gone their way (in the dying minutes, Leinster aside) and another loss would set their season off to a fairly miserable start going into Europe. Tommy Allan, of course, will be hoping for exactly that as he guides the visitors from 10.

Loosehead prop Pierre Schoemann will sit this one – and the next four weeks – out following his red card disciplinary hearing after the Leinster game which does, from a Scotland point of view, give Allan Dell and Rory Sutherland a chance to bag some form ahead of the November international window. On the other side of the scrum, the form of Wullie Nel and Simon Berghan will also be of interest to Scotland coach Gregor Townsend following the news that Glasgow’s Zander Fagerson could now be out beyond the Six Nations due to ankle surgery.

Edinburgh Rugby: Blair Kinghorn, Dougie Fife, Chris Dean, Matt Scott, Duhan van der Merwe, Simon Hickey, Henry Pyrgos, Allan Dell, Stuart McInally, Willem Nel, Ben Toolis, Grant Gilchrist, Magnus Bradbury, Hamish Watson, Viliame Mata.
Replacements: Ross Ford, Rory Sutherland, Murray McCallum, Fraser McKenzie, Jamie Ritchie, Nathan Fowles, Jaco van der Walt, Juan Pablo Socino

Benetton Rugby: Jayden Hayward, Iliesa Ratuva Tavuyara, Tommaso Iannone, Luca Morisi, Luca Sperandio, Tommaso Allan, Dewaldt Duvenage; Cherif Traore, Luca Bigi, Marco Riccioni, Marco Fuser, Dean Budd, Sebastian Negri da Ollegio, Marco Barbini, Robert Barbieri.
Replacements: Engjel Makelara, Derrick Appiah, Simone Ferrari, Federico Ruzza, Marco Lazzaroni, Edoardo Gori, Ian McKinley, Nacho Brex

At BT Murrayfield, Friday 28 September, kick-off 7.35pm – live on Premier Sports.


Glasgow too have some honour to restore, following a shock loss to the Southern Kings – still a shock, even if the Warriors were a long way from home – after playing so well against Munster and the Cheetahs in recent weeks.

The regular Scotland partnership of Alex Dunbar and Huw Jones is restored in the centre while Adam Hastings is handed back the reigns at standoff alongside Ali Price. There’s a change on the wings as Lee Jones and Niko Matawalu step in, so the back division has an unfamiliar yet perhaps more reassuring look.

Without Zander Fagerson, D’Arcy Rae is in place at tighthead but with four locks injured, Dave Rennie turns to Mr Dependable Rob Harley to slot into the second row. It also means he can get both co-captains on the pitch alongside Matt Fagerson and have Adam Ashe on the bench.

Overall the bench looks a little bare but hopefully it will be enough to reward the Scotstoun faithful – they’ll be determined to put that result last week behind them.

Glasgow Warriors: Ruaridh Jackson, Lee Jones, Huw Jones, Alex Dunbar, Nikola Matawalu, Adam Hastings, Ali Price; Oli Kebble, Fraser Brown, D’arcy Rae, Rob Harley, Jonny Gray, Ryan Wilson, Callum Gibbins, Matt Fagerson.
Replacements: George Turner, Alex Allan, Adam Nicol, Andrew Davidson, Chris Fusaro, George Horne, Brandon Thomson, Nick Grigg.

Glasgow players unavailable through injury: Adam Ashe (neck), Brian Alainu’uese (back) Scott Cummings (ankle), Zander Fagerson (ankle), Siua Halanukanuka (foot), Stuart Hogg (ankle), Sam Johnson (head / knee), Kiran McDonald (hand), Tim Swinson (lower limb) and DTH van der Merwe (groin).

Dragons: Jordan Williams, Dafydd Howells, Adam Warren, Jarryd Sage, Jared Rosser, Arwel Robson, Tavis Knoyle; Ryan Bevington, Richard Hibbard (c), Lloyd Fairbrother, Brandon Nansen, Rynard Landman, Aaron Wainwright, Nic Cudd, Lewis Evans
Replacements: Elliot Dee, Brok Harris, Aaron Jarvis, Huw Taylor, James Thomas, Rhodri Williams, Josh Lewis, Will Talbot-Davies

21 Responses

    1. On a short-term loan from Newcastle. Spent most of his rugby career so far playing alongside Scott Cummings (for Kelvinside Academy, Glasgow Hawks, Scotland age grade). Moved from the Glasgow and the West branch of the Scottish Rugby Academy to Falcons in 2016.

      1. I saw him make one pretty big carry when he came on. Is he one for the future or does the fact he’s moved from West Scotland to Falcons and back again suggest his development has stalled?

  1. I’ve been a Ryan Wilson convert the last couple of seasons but he had a really poor game last weekend – as did a lot of others – so really needs to up the intensity tonight & play more of a captains role. Looks a strong team for the Dragons; surely can’t lose again otherwise will be a real confidence sapper. Win well and can then possibly count last weekend as a harsh lesson in game preparation.

  2. Massively frustrating game again from Warriors. So many silly little errors.

    Was it great Dragons defence that meant Warriors played crash ball Hastings for most of the game when the ball went out from the forwards or something misfiring in midfield? After the first few attacks where he was closed down before the pass they needed to vary the options he had and have someone running a line back on his inside. Although sometimes it looked a little like Hastings, good that he undoubtedly is, was trying to take too much on himself even when the pass was on.

    Still, five points in the bag without hitting top form will do for now.

  3. Having watched both games I reckon both Edinburgh & Glasgow would’ve been better with John Hardie in their teams.
    Both 10s played well & it was nice to see Scotland’s best centre partnership Dunbar/Jones looking like they are getting back to good form.
    Re Edinburgh I’d still like to see VDW playing 12.

  4. Glasgow playing Toonie rugby vs Dragons with some good running lines. Scrum OK but this team really need a couple of forwards who can make ground. Multiple attacking threats stretch the best defences. All credit to Dragons, they never got any significant control of the game but also never lost their composure and put up an excellent defensive effort throughout.

  5. Neils Official Player Ratings.

    1. Kebble – 8
    2.Brown – 6.5
    3. Rae – 6
    4. Gray – 6
    5. Harley – 7
    6. Wilson – 6.5
    7. Gibbins – 6
    8. Fagerson – 6.5
    9. Price – 7
    10. Hastings – 7
    11. Matawalu – 6.5
    12. Dunbar – 7.5
    13. H Jones – 7
    14. L Jones – 9
    15. Jackson – 5

    16. Turner – 6
    17. Allan – 6
    18. Nicol -6
    19. Davidson – 5
    20. Fusaro – 5
    21. Horne – 8
    22. Thompson – 7
    23. Grigg – 7

    1. Some would say rubbish – I will just say ‘I do not agree’ . For all his great work , and he did command the scrum and their front row was very , very solid, Oli Kebble gave away 3 penalties, and that will wound us , could even be fatal , against a class side. Gray was grafting hard just not that visible (harsh score , he is a cornerstone in that pack), I agree on Harley , a great player, a players player , reliable and coming into his prime if we play him in the second row. Huw Jones was in goodshape and will be a great Warrior , he does not need any ‘look at me’s’ types haranguing him, I predict he will flourish this autumn. Hastings is the standoff we thought we lost (actually more consistent than Finn who appears to be on great form) . Brown was much better than usual so either a six or a seven but dont sit on the fence. As for Wilson, he was adequate for the premiership , no more and Fagerson was just as bad. Gibbins was involved in one of the scores but quiet by his standards, certainly no worse that the other pair. Lee Jones took his tries well but basically was a mediocre performance and did not give the rest of the side much to play with . Jackson is about right, he is no Hogg , but a safe pair of hands and makes 95% of his tackles, so that is a benefit. Horne was brilliant bringing him on for impact was just right last night, a live wire coming on when the opposition are blowing is brilliant and for that I would give Rennie full marks. We were in a low place this week and he did his job , bonus point at home in blustery, troublesome conditions. Well done Dave Rennie, it was a long way back from the high of the Veldt to the low of Port Elizabth to a quiet Scotstoun and a have a go welsh side with a chip on their shoulders.

      1. Told you so – Kebble gave away at least three again tonight. Must not grumble , at least he is consistent.

  6. With an eye on Saracens the week after, this is the team i want out for Zebre.

    1. Allan
    2. Turner
    3. Nicol
    4. Gray
    5. Harley
    6. Wilson (C)
    7. Smith
    8. Fagerson
    9. Horne
    10. Thompson
    11. Matawalu
    12. Dunbar
    13. Jones
    14. Jones
    15. Seymour

    16. Brown
    17. Bhatti
    18. Rae
    19. Davidson
    20. Ashe
    21. Price
    22. Grigg
    23. Jackson

    Rested for Sarries – Kebble, Gibbins, Hastings, DTH.

    Key Positions to fight for.

    Tighthead – Im not convinced about Having Darcy Rae against Vunipola so would like to see how Nicol fairs at Scrum time.

    No 8.
    Ashe or Fagerson ?

    No 9.
    Price has really brought his form back but Horne is not out of the picture for me, this is the hardest desicion to who starts against Sarries.


    I would like to see how Seymour fairs at FB as he is very solid under the High Ball and i dont think Jackson offers any threat against a team of that Quality.
    (This one admittedly is abit of a wildcard selection)

    1. Neil – I would counter argue the Fullback start , Jackson was used to playing English Premiership rugby, I believe for that alone he will add something against Saracens, he doesnt fear them , I believe he plays better against good opposition. That is no game for experimenting. I predict he will start.

      Unlike you , I am less concerend as I believe a team perofmance is much better than a team of individual stars. I actually think we are getting that balance right at the Warriors. Unlike Saracens we will not be fielding a side with big egos to pamper. That is a benefit IMO.

  7. Good to see the Warriors pushing them behind the gain line , it was impossible for Dragons to win as they went back with every play. Our danger was penalty to the corner and a ruck or worse pulling the ruck down, man in the bin. The Penalty count could have hurt us more.

    Where are the Edinburgh fans , a one point win , season back on track, Glasgow are there for the humping like you usually do , why so quiet ! Let’s hear a bit of passion , why allow a Glasgow sour face like me to big you up !!! Lets hear it for Edinburgh.

    1. I have to say that was yet another game Edinburgh could have lost. If that had happened it would have been devastating.
      It worries me that both Edinburgh and Glasgow defences could be described as leaky, but five point wins will do for now.

  8. Embra are a poor side this season – their defence in the wide channels is schoolboyish, their backs have no defensive line speed and they make unforced errors with alarming regularity.

    They appeared to have enjoyed all the smoke Cockerill blew up their arses in the summer and dont seem to realise the effort needed to warrant it.

    1. I’ve not seen Cockerill blowing much smoke in that area, he’s been pretty realistic from start to finish even when they were performing well above expectations at the tail of last season…

      1. Totally correct. If anything, it’s the media (both social and otherwise) who have been doing the smoke blowing.

  9. I have enjoyed reading and occasionally posting to this blog. It has the potential to be entertaining as well as informative. Yet, as ever, with such publications, it can be rather self-indulgent and inward-looking. All kudos to everyone who contributes, for their knowledge and enthusiasm but to attract a wider readership, more argument, opinion and a little more frivolity is the way forward. Think of Peter Wright’s commentary on BBC Radio Scotland’s Friday night games.

    1. Keep coming in, keep reading , keep posting , be frivilous, be controversial, celebrate success, say it as it is, not everyone wants to admit reality and so what if they dont. Nothing wrong with a bit more honesty but you need a thick skin to go against the populous view. You may even be accused of all sorts.

      Success is not final, failure is not fatal, having the sheer tenacity and guts to keep at it is what counts. Keep at it..

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Scottish Rugby News and Opinion