Scottish Rugby News and Opinion


PRO14 Round 20: Teams for the weekend

Matt Fagerson
Matt Fagerson runs at Marcell Coetzee during Glasgow vs Ulster - pic ©: Alastair Ross / Novantae Photography

Edinburgh Rugby v Ulster Rugby

Date: Fri 12th April 2019
KO: 19:35
Venue: BT Murrayfield

Is this the strongest Edinburgh starting XV possible without Blair Kinghorn? It certainly looks pretty close to it, with a starting centre pair of Scott and Bennett (at last) and Magnus Bradbury swapping for John Barclay. This gives the benefit of more experience off the bench whilst seeing what the destructive Bradbury can do from the start of a game.

It’s another must win game against playoff challengers Ulster. Munster, still in Europe and safe over in second place in conference A with a 12 point cushion on Connacht, have named a second string to visit Treviso which won’t make Edinburgh’s task any easier. Currently Treviso, Ulster and Edinburgh are all competing for the 2nd and 3rd spots in Conference B.

In short, another win is really the minimum required to keep their fate in their own hands going into the final round. A try bonus as Glasgow managed against Ulster last weekend would, naturally, give them the strongest position from which to qualify.

Edinburgh Rugby: Darcy Graham, Damien Hoyland, Mark Bennett, Matt Scott, Duhan van der Merwe, Jaco van der Walt, Henry Pyrgos; Pierre Schoeman, Stuart McInally, Willem Nel, Ben Toolis, Grant Gilchrist, Magnus Bradbury, Hamish Watson, Viliame Mata.
Replacements: Ross Ford, Allan Dell, Simon Berghan, Callum Hunter-Hill, John Barclay, Charlie Shiel, Simon Hickey, George Taylor.

Ulster Rugby: Jacob Stockdale, Robert Baloucoune, Luke Marshall, Stuart McCloskey, Rob Lyttle, Billy Burns, John Cooney, Eric O’Sullivan, Rob Herring, Marty Moore, Iain Henderson, Kieran Treadwell, Nick Timoney, Jordi Murphy, Marcell Coetzee.
Replacements: John Andrew, Andy Warwick, Ross Kane, Alan O’Connor, Sean Reidy, Dave Shanahan, Peter Nelson, Angus Kernohan.

Referee: Nigel Owens

Leinster Rugby v Glasgow Warriors

Date: Sat 13th April 2019
KO: 15:00
Venue: RDS Arena

The permutations for Glasgow are less complex, although they’re in the hunt for a home semi-final spot and a week off having already made the playoffs (see tweet below from Kevin).

Glasgow have not won at the RDS in a very long time, but a win on Saturday would go a good way towards securing that home playoff that the Warriors would dearly love – and possibly taking the pressure off the final round a little especially if Munster lose (although that hurts Edinburgh in turn).

Huw Jones returns to the bench for the first game since the Six Nations and elsewhere it is a similar strength of team to the one that dispatched Ulster in style last week. Jonny Gray reacted well to being dropped – let’s hope that reaction continues in a positive vein this week as he and both Fagersons were superb in round 19.

Leinster don’t have their top team out but it’s still a strong unit with a handy looking replacement front row, and like all the Irish sides they are always a tough nut to crack at home.

Leinster Rugby: Rob Kearney, Jordan Larmour, Joe Tomane, Robbie Henshaw, Dave Kearney, Ross Byrne, Jamison Gibson-Park; Ed Byrne, James Tracy, Michael Bent, Devin Toner, Jack Dunne, Josh Murphy, Sean O’Brien, Caelan Doris.
Replacements: Sean Cronin, Cian Healy, Tadhg Furlong, Will Connors, Max Deegan, Hugh O’Sullivan, Ciaran Frawley, Adam Byrne.

Glasgow Warriors: Stuart Hogg, Tommy Seymour, Kyle Steyn, Sam Johnson, Nikola Matawalu, Adam Hastings, Ali Price; Jamie Bhatti, Fraser Brown, Zander Fagerson, Scott Cummings, Jonny Gray, Rob Harley, Chris Fusaro, Matt Fagerson.
Replacements: Grant Stewart, Alex Allan, D’arcy Rae, Bruce Flockhart, Adam Ashe, George Horne, Pete Horne, Huw Jones.

Referee: Marius Mitrea

Unavailable players: Callum Gibbins (head), Nick Grigg (ankle), Siua Halanukonuka (shoulder), Lee Jones (knee), Oli Kebble (back), Matt Smith (shoulder), Tim Swinson (ankle), George Turner (head), DTH van der Merwe (shoulder) and Ryan Wilson (knee).

35 Responses

    (we all love this bit)


    Graham vs STOCKDALE
    HOYLAND vs Baloucoune
    BENNETT vs Marshall
    SCOTT vs McCloskey
    VAN DER MERWE vs Lyttle
    van der Walt vs BURNS
    Pyrgos vs COONEY

    SCHOEMAN vs E O’Sullivan
    McINALLY vs Herring
    NEL vs Moore
    Toolis vs HENDERSON
    GILCHRIST vs Treadwell
    BRADBURY vs Timoney
    WATSON vs Murphy
    MATA vs Coetzee

    FORD vs Andrew
    DELL vs Warwick
    BERGHAN vs Kane
    Hunter-Hill vs O’CONNOR
    BARCLAY vs Reidy
    Shiel vs SHANAHAN
    Hickey vs NELSON
    Taylor vs KERNOHAN

    Backs = Edinburgh
    Forwards = Edinburgh
    Replacements = Even


    R Kearney vs HOGG
    LARMOUR vs Seymour
    Tomane vs STEYN
    HENSHAW vs Johnson
    D Kearney vs MATAWALU
    R BYRNE vs Hastings
    Gibson-Park vs PRICE

    E Byrne vs BHATTI
    Tracy vs BROWN
    Bent vs Z FAGERSON
    TONER vs Cummings
    Dunne vs GRAY
    Murphy vs HARLEY
    O’BRIEN vs Fusaro
    Doris vs M Fagerson = EVEN

    CRONIN vs Stewart
    HEALY vs Allan
    FURLONG vs Rae
    DEEGAN vs Flockhart
    Connors vs ASHE
    H O’Sullivan vs G HORNE
    Frawley vs P HORNE
    A Byrne vs H JONES

    Backs = Glasgow Warriors
    Forwards = Glasgow Warriors
    Bench = Even


    In the Aviva Premiership:

    Ollie Atkins, Anton Bresler, Andrew Davidson, Cornell du Preez, Gary Graham, Nick Haining, John Hardie, Chris Harris, Sam Hidalgo-Clyne, Rory Hutchinson, Jake Kerr, Sean Maitland, Ruaridh McConnochie, Josh Strauss, Duncan Weir

    Mitch Eadie, James Lang, Cameron Redpath, Johnny Williams

    In the Greene King IPA Championship:

    Bobby Beattie, Grayson Hart, Robin Hislop, Elliot Millar-Mills, Jack Owlett, Gordon Reid, Richie Vernon, Alun Walker

    Phil Cringle, Scott Steele

      1. Good post, however Bressler isn’t Scottish qualified any more. That was my understanding- could very well be wrong!

      2. No worries :) Shame about McConnochie.

        Bresler’s actually not been capped by Namibia yet, I don’t think. I believe he’s still Scotland eligible.

  3. Backward in attack, surrendered ball time and time again with predictable, box kicks, no speed at breakdown. The best run of the match was a prop.

    All out of steam .

    1. A few star players looked burned out but i think the coaches are to blame for this one mostly, the gameplan was was not working & Ulster to there credit shut us down easily.

      1. You are right. We must give Ulster credit , they wanted it and we had nothing left to stop it.

  4. Desperately disappointing last night, Edinburgh were dreadful. If Edinburgh cannot physically impose themselves on the opposition forwards then we really struggle, as seen last night Edinburgh have , when playing with back foot ball, little threat in the backs. Scott is not a 12, he is a good 13, Bennett looks a shadow of his once great, confident self. VDW is a steady player. By the time the ball laboriously makes it to the wings there loads of defenders to defend their line. Maybe RC knows the backs have severe limitations & that’s why he insists Pygros box kicks. Teams know Graham is a threat & know Edinburgh will target the scrum & know if they counter those they will be in with a good chance. O’Halloran should be new backs coach. In other news it appears to me Crosbie is our best kicker chaser & the best attacking rugby was played with Sheil/Hickie at 1/2 back.

  5. Mark Bennett has been out a long , long time and needs to be nurtured back to this level of intensity.

  6. Really disappointed with Edinburgh last night. They barely touched the ball in the first half, but when they did they made error after error. I waited for the second half fightback a la Scarlets, but it just didn’t materialise. Nervy and lacklustre, they seemed to let the occasion get to them. Thought they were poor from 9 through to 15.
    The forwards were better but strangely lethargic. Ulster defended well, but there wasn’t much to cheer for the Edinburgh supporters.
    I’ve defended Henry Pyrgos against detractors on many occasions, but the time wasting at the back of rucks has to stop. (He never played like this at Glasgow) I wasn’t surprised when the crowd started booing at these points. No cutting edge or imagination at all. Think Hodge ran his course years ago, and Cockerill needs to change the backs coach.
    Edinburgh have been horribly inconsistent this year. Just to put the icing on the cake, they’ll probably have their best game of the season against Glasgow and halt their progress.

    1. Struggled to watch the game, both due to will-power with Edinburghs’s very poor performance and the staccato live feed from Prem Sports (possibly just my rural wifi – but that’s two weekends in a row now). Ulster looked better in every detail and so were good for their win and clearly looked more deserving of a play-off position.
      Edinburgh are really missing Kinghorn. There’s not enough depth of quality in the backline to accommodate even one or two injuries to the first choice, but the first choice are decent.
      The box kicking strategy is not doing anything for me and I can’t see how it’s effective. Totally predictable and the one-dimensionality is a gift to the opposition strategy makers. It’s not accurate enough, nor used with enough discrimination. Far too predictable and easy to defend. There’s also not enough clinical incision when an opportunity does emerge, which is central to the success of such an attritional approach.
      I don’t think the backs are that poor, there is some talent there, some of it very good, but they struggle to make anything of the game plan, which is not very backs friendly.
      I would like to see a lot more emphasis on speed and dynamism around the breakdown and much less dependence on box-kicking. I think that can still play to the strengths of the team, but will just make us much less predictable. Especially if we can inject more speed and variation at 9. And did I mention box-kicking? Less of that, especially from attacking situations.

    2. Cockerill needs to change his tactics – its his obsession with 9 man rugby which has ruined Embra’s season.

      He’s got one gameplan and when it all goes wrong he’s got nothing else.

      Pyrgos needs dropped now – he’s killing any momentum Embra have – the season is pretty much finished, lets see what Shiel can do starting.

    3. Noticed Pyrgos has developed a tendency to pick the ball up, then settle it in his hands, then pass. That half second gives the defense a free meter…it matters

      1. There was a grimly humorous moment following Edinburgh’s try, where Mossy commented that it had been built on quick ball and they cut to a clip where the ball was being delivered from the back of the ruck, I think by Toolis, and it was actually about as quick a delivery as we’d seen all night…

      2. Yip.

        The Edinburgh try came from 9. Toolis 10. Watson 12. Barclay.

        Pyrgos has developed a stutter in his passing motion. It’s horrific.

  7. The difference between Hastings receiving a flat pass whilst running with multiple runners outside him and Jaco VDW or Hickey receiving the ball deep while static with static backs outside them is why Edinburgh are going to miss out on the playoffs.

    Edinburgh desperately need a new backs coach.

    1. They need half backs. Pyrgos glacial service allied with two 10s who lie far too deep.

      1. Pyrgos’ service has to be part of the plan, though. That’s a coaching issue, not a Pyrgos issue.

      2. Edinburgh had some really good attacking plays mid-season/champions cup, it appears that since Kinghorn got injured that they have lost something though.

        They really need to get Duhan onto the ball alot more also.

  8. Never mind beating Warriors and hoping for third, Edinburgh look like they need a bonus point win to avoid 5th as Scarlets look like they’ll take 5pts against Dragons. Disappointing after a season which at one point, despite some woeful losses (e.g. Kings) could have been even better than last year’s unexpectedly good season. Could/should have been in the HEC semi, could/should have been in the league play-offs. But likely we’ll get neither. Here’s hoping a World Cup depleted squad can cope and give us something to cheer at the end of next season!

    1. I hope Edinburgh sort out their attack. They’ve got some really talented backs, but they seem to get so little use and the plays often seem so basic. With that pack they should be doing so much better.

  9. With half an eye on recruitment, these could be Edinburgh and Glasgow Warriors’ best-available teams come the World Cup:

    Bennett; Nasoko, Johnstone, Dean, van der Merwe; van der Walt, Pyrgos; Schoeman, Cherry, Ceccarelli; Carmichael, McKenzie (C); Douglas, Crosbie; Haining
    (Willemse, Sutherland, McCallum, Hunter-Hill, Miller, Shiel, Hickey, Hoyland)

    Edinburgh’s wings look incredibly well-stocked, with Nasoko, van der Merwe, Fife, potentially Hoyland and probably Sau – and the centres also look fairly strong, with Scott and Taylor not listed above. A new scrum-half is known to be on the way, and the likes of Mason, Darge and Boyle could also do a job in the back row, and there’s Hodgson and Atkinson in the boiler room. Full-back, however, looks weak; Fife is an out-of-position wing at best, with Bennett and van der Walt out of position the only real alternatives. The squad is also slightly thin at tighthead prop if Italy call up Pietro Ceccarelli.

    Jackson; Steyn, Grigg, McDowall, L Jones; Thomson, Frisby; Kebble, Stewart, Rae; Cummings, Swinson; Harley, Gibbins (C); M Fagerson
    (Bryce, Allan, Nicol, Ashe, Fusaro, Barreto, Hughes, Nairn)

    Practically full-strength, at least in the forwards. Steyn is the centre cover here, (although there’s a chance Grigg and M Fagerson will go in which case we get Kelly on the bench with Hughes starting and Steyn at 13), with Jacko covering fly-half. Barreto is relatively untested at scrum-half; should be fun!

    1. I don’t see Niko making the Fiji squad as a winger due to the quality they have or as a 9 due to his lack of game time so he should be available and back up for Frisbee.

      Glasgow also have Andrew Davidson coming in at lock who will be a big player as well as Kiran McDonald who always shows up well and will hopefully push on.

      Glasgow will surely sign a NSQ full back to replace Hogg as well.

    2. My early RWC squad has 12 players from Glasgow, 10 from Edinburgh and 9 exiles so a good balance.

      I think one of the Edinburgh locks will miss out and also Kinghorn.

      1. Mine’s the same – no Kinghorn, no Toolis. Going by who’ll be where next season (e.g. counting Bhatti as an Edinburgh player), I have 10 from Edinburgh, 12 from Glasgow and 8 exiles plus Gordon Reid who’s unattached, so our squads might be identical!

      2. I’m swithering between GG and Toolis. Toolis has been on great form recently and was immense in the Calcutta Cup game.

  10. ESPN have updated Jonny’s tackle stats: they’ve been revised UP to 43/0. Part of me wonders if he gave them a call and let them know they missed a couple…

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Scottish Rugby News and Opinion