Scottish Rugby News and Opinion


PRO14 Round 6: Teams for the Weekend

Adam Hastings of Glasgow
Adam Hastings - pic © Al Ross/Novantae Photography

Two new starters feature for Edinburgh this weekend in the (considerably different) shapes of Darcy Graham and Rory Sutherland, and there’s a bit of a shuffle in the midfield to try and bring some solidity in defence and a few more ideas in attack; despite the bonus point tries, Edinburgh could easily have lost to a Benetton team that cut the wide defence open a bit too smoothly for our liking. While the pack is settled, Cockerill continues to hunt for the right blend and this week Dougie Fife and Matt Scott are rested which perhaps suggests this fixture isn’t top of the priority list going into an all-important Heineken Cup debut of sorts, certainly for this incarnation of Edinburgh.

Up front it’s the usual hefty pack filled with internationals, and dual back rows on the bench this week in the shape of Luke Hamilton and Jamie Ritchie. Who goes into the second row out of this lot?

At home, with a strong pack out, Edinburgh should have enough but the Cheetahs can really play if they put their mind to it. With the Italian teams now putting in far more consistent performances it would be easy to write the South African teams off as the away-from-home underachievers du jour but after recent performances, Edinburgh don’t want to be relying on luck to scrape them over the finish line this time.

Edinburgh Rugby: Blair Kinghorn, Darcy Graham, James Johnstone, Juan Pablo Socino, Duhan van der Merwe, Simon Hickey, Henry Pyrgos, Rory Sutherland, Stuart McInally, Willem Nel, Ben Toolis, Grant Gilchrist, Magnus Bradbury, Hamish Watson, Viliame Mata. Replacements: Ross Ford, Murray McCallum, Simon Berghan, Luke Hamilton, Jamie Ritchie, Sean Kennedy, Jaco van der Walt, Chris Dean.

Toyota Cheetahs: Louis Fouche, William Small-Smith, Benhard Janse van Rensburg, Nico Lee, Rabs Maxwane, Tian Schoeman, Tian Meyer, Ox Nche, Jacques du Toit, Aranos Coetzee, Justin Basson, JP du Preez, Niell Jordaan, Junior Pokomela, Steph Malan. Replacements: Joseph Dweba, Charles Marais, Gunther Janse van Vuuren, Walt Steenkamp, Daniel Maartens, Abongile Nonkontwana, Shaun Venter, Ali Mgijima.

Referee: Marius Mitrea (FIR)

BT Murrayfield, Edinburgh, kick-off 7.35pm, live on FreeSports


Over in the West, Dave Rennie continues with the Jones/Dunbar centre pairing that seemed to click against the Dragons, and Adam Hastings at 10 following a stat-topping (he now leads the league for defenders beaten) Round 5.

He’s handed starts to Adam Nicol at tighthead and Andrew Davidson at lock, even as news emerges of a global search for a replacement prop, and big Brian Alainu’uese being spotted at Toulon. If these younger lads who he has currently can’t get it done, he might have to bring the famed Pen back into action and sign a few mid-season contracts to beef up the depth. Nicol was an impressive figure at U20s level and now would be an ideal time for him to kick on.

This game could also give us a chance to see new signing David Tameilau in PRO14 action off the bench, with a few of the top internationals (and Calum Gibbins) also rested ahead of a potential nightmare fixture against Saracens in Europe…

Glasgow Warriors: Ruaridh Jackson, Lee Jones, Huw Jones, Alex Dunbar, Rory Hughes, Adam Hastings, George Horne; Oli Kebble, George Turner, Adam Nicol, Andrew Davidson, Jonny Gray, Adam Ashe, Chris Fusaro, Matt Fagerson.
Replacements: Grant Stewart, Alex Allan, D’arcy Rae, Greg Peterson, Matt Smith, David Tameilau, Pete Horne, Nikola Matawalu.

Zebre: Edoardo Padovani, Gabriele di Giulio, Giulio Bisegni, Tommaso Boni, Paula Balekana, Francois Brummer, Marcello Violi; Cruze Ah-Nau, Oliviero Fabiani, Eduardo Bello, Leonardo Krumov, George Fabio Biagi, Apisai Tauyavuca, Johan Meyer, Jimmy Tuivaiti.
Replacements: Massimo Ceciliani, Daniele Rimpelli, Roberto Tenga, Samuele Ortis, Giosue Zilocchi, Riccardo Raffaele, Maicol Azzolini, Giovanbattista Venditti.

Referee: Quinton Immelman (SARU)

Scotstoun Stadium, 7.35pm, live on Premier Sports 2

71 Responses

  1. Hoping Darcy Graham can make an impact for Edinburgh tomorrow. When you take Kinghorn/vdM out there’s not much depth there so would be good if he can stake a claim. Personally think this is a much bigger game than the Euro one next week, need to win tomorrow and at zebre to get back on track.

    Surprised to see Kebble starting for the warriors tomorrow. Thought he would be rested with a view to the Euro games.

  2. Lets pray Kebble does not get injured or we are screwed against Sarries.

    Is it just me or does it feel like its only a matter of time before Dunbar gets injured again ? would love to seen him survive until the new year at least.

    Good to see Graham starting for Edinburgh, they have decent depth at wing imo now.

  3. Is Rennie afraid to play without Jonny Gray? Is he going to be overworked in a World Cup year?

    1. Jonny’s already had his week off (v the Kings). He’s only allowed to play a maximum of 4 games in a row so after Dragons and then Zebre tomorrow night he’ll play the 2 European games then be rested for Munster away.

      1. He’s surely still being played more than Welsh and Irish locks that are vital to their World Cup hopes? James Ryan, Henderson and AWJ in particular.

        On the topic of that Munster game does anyone have any idea why it’s scheduled in the first half of the season?

    2. Gray is needed because Davidson is making his first start.

      Sensible management and selection.

      1. I am sure you should (naughty boy) and it is , I think a mistake. Mind you , we geve them 24 points in that game, so there is a minor justification, says Glasgow are loose at the rear . The real shameful performance was the Kings. Every side playing us now knows we are vulnerable and that we will dread the hallmarks of that game coming into play. That bad dream will come back time and time again if we lose points early.

      2. Yup correct. Price of doing (everything) in a rush… have adjusted it now, as a straight swap of Cheetahs for Kings would have made even less sense!

  4. Pretty scathing assessment on a few players by Cockerill in this weeks press comments. I’m assuming it’s players not following defensive systems as much as individual errors, as Scott has been one of our better players this year yet gets the axe and thought Dean did well last week, offensively at least. Clearly hoping a rocket up a few backsides will drive higher standards.

    Marfo situation is interesting. Given Schoeman will be back in 3 games time, it’s hard to see him getting much game time this season as he’s now effectively 5th choice front row. Loosehead could become a bit of an issue for Scotland in the short term with project players firmly in charge in Glasgow and Edinburgh and Bhatti apparently now out of favour along with Marfo. How’s Gordy Reid been playing?!

    1. GR is off the radar as LI are no longer Premiership. Not so easy to move when you have already relocated a family. He needs a premiership side in crisis to buy him out of there. Just an opinion so dont start a rumour, just the way I read the situation.

      Changing the subject , Iam looking forward to Rory Hughes in action this evening. Big , direct , bit ruff and tough. Be great if he has come onto form.

    2. Agreed re loosehead. Dell has to be starting for Scotland. Whoever replaces him is a complete lottery. Bhatti, Sutherland, Reid, McCallum are all in the mix but none standing out at all.

      1. McCallum has been pretty impressive in some of his performances but I think he’s been settled towards playing at tighthead. Saying that Cockers seems to rate him higher than Marfo and has picked him as LH cover tonight!

      2. I’d say Reid & McCallum aren’t really in the mix. Reid being the championship means he’s not playing at a high enough level. McCallum is a TH and is only covering LH for Edinburgh this week, because Shoe’s suspended, Dell is rested and Marfo isn’t good enough.

        I’d agree Dell is 1st choice. 2nd is up for grabs and between, Sutherland, Allan and Bhatti.

        Going on previous form, I’d say Sutherland has the best chance of taking that position as he was superb pre horror injury. He’s not shown it yet since coming back, but hopefully with Shoe being out for a few weeks he’ll get a chance

      3. For all his use in the loose, Still have reservations with dell at scrum time. The memory of him really struggling 2 years ago in the 6N is still fresh in the memory. He’s still the best option available at the moment though although would be nice to see Bhatti and Sutherland have a decent games before the autumn to enhance their chances. Alex Allan very unlucky to miss out on a start this week imo, been impressive off the bench of late.

      4. Can’t say I’ve watched him much for Edinburgh but have been under impressed with Dell at international level. And he’s so lightweight. Two six nations ago, the scrum was mince when he was alongside Fagerson. Maybe less of an issue of Nel at his best. Surely all of Sutherland, Marfo, Bhatti are ahead. Think Gatland got him mixed up with Nel for the Lions call up.

      5. Not rocket science – can’t see why you would have Marfo ahead of Dell as Scotland’s loosehead. He’s always injured and Edinburgh’s 4th choice loosehead.

        He’s better than Sutherland and Bhatti as well.

      6. Blake -Dont, wont, can’t agree with you. Dell is a lightweight .The difference between them is about 20 lbs which is no surprise to NRS. He says ‘the scrum was mince’ when Dell last played.

        Dell 16 stone 6 lbs , Marfo is 18 Stones dead.Notable competitors :Healy 18 Stones ,Jenkins 19 Stones, Mako Vunipola 19 st 4lbs .

        Dell is match fit , Marfo is not. If they were both fit, I know which one I would want alongside me in the scrum.

        As I recall Marfo’s handling skills were excellent.

      7. Dell has apparently chucked on a stone over his listed weight and is mentoned as bring the same weight now as Dicko.

        Personally I’d be thinking about Alex Allan on current form but Dell isn’t the same player who Ireland shunted about two years ago.

  5. Oops…Completely forgot about Allan. He’s probably been the best SQ loosehead so far this season.

  6. Off topic but sad to hear about Steve ojomoh he has had a stroke and is in intensive care he was a fine player in his day.

  7. Berghan is top choice tighthead. Nel and McCallum are very, very close when it comes to the bench option.

    Alex Allan is the form Scottish loosehead for me so far this season so it’s all there for Sutherland, Dell, Bhatti or even Marfo to put their hand up.

    Add Rae and Fagerson when fit with Nicol, Thornton, Murphy and McLaren in the pipeline and we’re entering a golden age of Scottish props.

    1. Half the players you’ve mentioned haven’t even proven themselves in pro14. Our looseheads cant get a start for our clubs and our tighthead options are good but not great. Hardly a golden age.

  8. Edinburgh v Cheetahs

    Great to get BP but didn’t really impose against the worst team in the league

    Berghan made a big difference.

    Back three dangerous but balance not right inside them to utilise them. Why not try VDW @ 12?

    Graham doesn’t look to small now, I’d like to see him given a run @ 15 when Kinghorn away.

    Hickey an excellent kicker, hasn’t fully shown what he can do with ball in hand yet due to somewhat conservative tactics.

    Mata a machine

    1. John Martin No way are the cheetahs the worst team in the league what have you been smoking. Certainly a better side than Cardiff, Zebre, Dragons, Connacht, Southern Kings and probably Ulster.

      1. They’ve drawn with Ulster and lost to Blues already this season. They’re bottom of a combined league.

      2. Cheetahs 5 points secured this season, less than anyone else = worst team in the league. You stand corrected Mr Blake Westwood

  9. Darcy Graham looked too small last year, but he’s looking bulkier this season and he still has pace to burn. Lots of potential there.

    Another player that has beefed up is Bradbury. He is shaping up to be a very high quality back row, as is Jamie Ritchie.

  10. Have had the privilege to watch both the Glasgow and Edinburgh games over the last few hours. Neither were impressive on first viewing, too many lapses across all plays and positions.

    Then watched Leinster v Munster this evening. Many leagues above anything we have. Would bet each of these club sides could fulfil a test series against Scotland and come out on top.The Irish model is what the SRU should be developing for our pro clubs, not lip service to a semipro old boys network.

    Don’t mean to sound harsh, but we’re kidding ourselves at how good we perceive our teams to be. From what I’ve seen of the PRO14 so far this season, we’re going backwards. Still not mastered the basics of passing and catching, let alone tactics. Long way to go, here’s hoping for improvement in the AI.

    1. Leinsters best side would no doubt be a match for all but the best test sides. The team they put out on Saturday was fare from their strongest though. Munster are nowhere near the level of Leinster and look to have slipped back from their form under Russie (who appears to be doing similar miracles with SA).

      1. The depth, quality and status of schools rugby in Ireland is really impressive. The top schools have virtually professional set-ups and players come through the ‘pyramid’ in Ireland playing in highly competitive quality environments. It’s something Hadden is trying to address in Scotland but isn’t something we can easily replicate and we’ll need a decade of investment at grass roots to attempt to catch up. It’s one if the reasons our exiles programme is so important to us.

      2. I think GAA football is also in their favour…structurally a very different game, and to an extent different “people”, but develops skills with hand and foot (i.e. its not football).

        In the end I think current SRU are doing as good a job with their resources as the Irish are with theirs…but the Irish have twice the resources.

    2. We beat Munster pretty comfortably already this season. Leinster are a different level, though, up there with Sarries, Exeter, Clermont et al..

  11. Scottie – this is my observation from the weekend too. The other point I would make is the intensity displayed between two rivals who are competing as teams and also as individuals for Irish places is on a different planet compared to the dross the Glasgow v Edinburgh games have been over the past few seasons.

    I don’t see much of Edinburgh so can’t really comment, other than they probably haven’t been as good as hoped this year. For a Scottish side they have a lot of depth in the pack but still seem too polite compared to the aggression from Leinster and Munster.

    Glasgow- I go to all the games and watch all the games on tv and I really don’t know what to think. I’ve posted before that I think Rennie has been tasked with developing young players to compliment the established internationals. The fans want a team that wins though. There have definitely been a few empty seats this year and quite flat atmospheres – I hope the Glasgow management team/SRU recognise that Glasgow still need investment (none in established players this season really) to continue the fan base development. With the ‘resurgence’ of Rangers and Celtic going backwards there is a real risk that those who drifted from football will drift back if Glasgow are average and there is more excitement from the rivalry between the football clubs.

    Before anyone says ‘they are not real fans anyway’. Get a grip, every fan who buys into the friendly yet passionate support Warriors have had over the past few years is welcome, whether they are a traditional rugby fan or not.

    1. Money in Scottish rugby is tight and Glasgow’s budget in recent years has gone on retaining Scottish talent. I don’t doubt the SRU want Glasgow to be as successful as possible but we are among the poorest teams in the Pro-14 let alone the European Cup so we’ve got to be realistic about how we’re most likely to get there – excellent coaches, development pathways and SQ players. I’m really not confident we have the budget to buy in the marquee players Glasgow fans want to make the difference. Perhaps when Hogg leaves at the end of the season there’ll be a bit more for recruitment.

      Although Rennie hasn’t had the impact I hoped, the fact the SRU got possibly the most sought after coach in the world, from under the noses of the WRU no less, is testament to their ambition.

    2. Solston S Last paragraph is inflasmatory.Scottish rugby needs more than money from disaffected football fans.Scottish rugby needs commitment.

  12. They are all welcome even the traditionalists who have now gone and found other things as they could not get tickets.I doubt they will prop up Glasgow again and the border fans are getting better value watching Newcastle.

    1. ‘The real rugby fans’ have gone back to supporting, or even getting involved in community rugby clubs which is where the change needs to start. They plant and nurture the seed and hopefully, in the future , can also get to see the harvest.

      The real joy of Scotstoun is seeing youngsters with parents at the game.
      Staying still has consequences , but so does expanding without an infrastructure to support it. Inclusion is what it is , nothing we can do about that.

  13. The scottish comprehensive schools used to play but stopped before professional rugby. I beleive that is where we need to change. If people play , they chose to go on or may not, but at least they understand the game and may spectate or encourage their kids to play. It starts in the schools . Rugby is a better game to play than to watch , we need to change that.

    1. Parochial attitudes are still a feature of some rugby clubs. Some years ago when I first took my son to mini rugby, I offer to stay on and help with training. There were two other adults taking the session and they didn’t speak one word to me the whole time. Scottish rugby has been improving but it still needs some big attitude changes in our private and public institutions to develop a New Zealand style rugby culture.

  14. Everything a bit dour above. This is the best Scottish rugby has been since I’ve been watching circa 1990. 2 teams in European Cup; international wins against all the other six nations; 3 top coaches; established pros – Nel, Seymour, Dunbar, Taylor, Maitland, Gray; Lions standard young pros -Russell, Hogg, Jones, Gray, McInally; talent coming through like Kinghorn, Graham, Ritchie, Bradbury, Hastings, G Horne. The SRU aren’t in bankrupt and there’s a World Cup to look forward to.

  15. Reading the above comments one would have thought that we hadn’t gotten two bonus point victories this weekend…

  16. Notrocketscience/Teamcam – i agree. My comments about Glasgow are in respect of maintaining a position of strength and developing. I started going when attendances could be a lot lower and I much prefer a full Scotstoun. My overarching comment is not to rest on laurels. I don’t think the fixture list over first half of season will do any favours to Glasgow attendance wise: lack of preferred Friday night games and I think 6 weeks between home games after Sarries. Isn’t ideal.

    Overall I think Scottish Rugby is in good shape but that doesn’t mean it’s time to relax.

    1. Of course it is in great shape and something to be proud off. Rugby at Pro levels is fed by a structure of volunteers who recruit kids for mini rugby, run and support community clubs often just for the love of the game. So if some want to drift away , it would be nice if they drifted to a club and got involved.

    2. Dont get it . Going into the break the table shows :

      Glasgow 25
      Leinster 24
      Scarlets 19
      Ospreys 18
      Ulster 16
      Edinburgh 16
      Munster 15

      Glasgow improving on last season. Still have key players injured, good overseas imports to sustain International losses.

      Edinburgh, should come through well mid and end of season.

  17. Bit off topic, but it’s a shame I can’t really join in the Pro 14 match blogs because I don’t have access to the channel showing the matches. Oh, how I miss Sir Hugh’s ‘Peanais, Dun Eideann!’ exclamations on Alba.
    Think my first views of Gunners and Warriors live will be on BT Sport or Sky next weekend.
    Just looking towards the AIs, the Saffer Test will be a real challenge. Looks like they’re back on song and it could be a cracker and a good measure of how we’re shaping up at Test level against other top international teams as we move into 6N 19 and towards the RWC. I’m guessing Toonie is watching all these Pro 14 games very closely, as well as the performances of SQ players playing elsewhere.
    A fortnight before SA, I’ll be going to the Principality stadium for the first time, hoping of course for a win at a venue where we haven’t done so well in the past decade or more. Come on, Scotland!

    1. How come you cant get access ? should be ok online, its been good quality for £10 a month and if the games are on at the same time they have a on demand feature so you can watch whatever game you want whenever, and skip past all the boring forward stuff.

    2. Yup, their FreeSports channel available on Sky and most other platforms has shown a couple of Glasgow games and an Edinburgh game so far I think…

      1. Worth noting as well that they seem to show all pro14 games on the freeview channel, just not live. if you have 5 mins you can probably find it being repeated at somepoint during the week after it goes out live on the premium channels.

  18. Freeview Ch 95 is Freesports. They have had a live w/e match and have two one hour pro 14 highlights on Mon.
    Was pointed to this by a post here some weeks ago so many thanks.

    1. Thanks, Grum and others above for advice on how to access our club games. It’s my own fault, really. Hadn’t researched all the options enough. Probably caused by my East Coast ‘ You’ll have had yir tea.’ aversion to paying £10 more a month to watch rugby I want to watch on top of whatever it is a month I pay for the right to see AP and Top 14 rugby that I don’t really want to watch!
      Peace and success to all Warriors, Gunners, London Scottish and Scotland fans on here!

      1. Like many others I pay Sky for sports and rarely get to watch what I want! With the Ryder Cup finished, I plan to cancel Sky Sports and use the money to get Premier Sports so I can watch all the Pro14.
        The ERC I tend to watch at the club/pub anyway.

  19. Recently subscribed to premier sports n so glad I did, watched both scottish games at the weeked plus scarlets v ospreys and leinster v munster. Streaming quality was very good, games seem to be on demand fairly sharp and punditry is fairly balanced…. do miss hugh dan tho! Well worth a tenner.

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Scottish Rugby News and Opinion