Scottish Rugby News and Opinion


PRO14 Round 8: 1872 Cup Part I

Huw Jones
Huw Jones - pic © Alastair Ross / Novantae Photography

Glasgow Warriors v Edinburgh Rugby

Date: Sat 21st December 2019
KO: 17:45
Venue: Scotstoun Stadium
Live on Premier Sports

Glasgow go into the first leg of the 1872 Cup festive double-header in pretty bad shape. They lost at home to a poor La Rochelle side meaning their European challenge is now all but over unless they can beat Stuart Hogg’s Exeter, their head coach and attack coach each have a foot out the door and Matt Fagerson, one of their standout players this season, has been banned for three matches.

Even the news of Greig Laidlaw’s international retirement means they will be without both Ali Price and George Horne – now clearly Scotland’s first choice scrum-halves – for most of the Six Nations window, by which point they may be scrapping for every league point going. Backup standoff Brandon Thomson is out with an injury, so cover at 10 will be thin too.

In short, not much to be “rapt” about – unless you are Jamie Dobie – aside from a new deal for Tommy Seymour , who will be available, and a short term loan deal to bring Leone “Uncle BigNaks” Nakarawa home.

Usually it’s Edinburgh in the sticky patch around this point, but they’ve started the season well, look to have built sufficient depth to weather injuries and have started playing some rugby outside of 9/10 with most of their first choices now fit and shedding any World Cup hangovers. Richard Cockerill’s side have gone well in Europe but he’s openly targeting the PRO14 and a return to Champions Cup rugby for this squad next season.

Glasgow will provide the usual “warm” welcome to the men from along the M8 but it is likely that Richard Cockerill will have seen enough chinks in the Warriors armour to think some valuable away points could be gathered. Probably not by way of the new expansive approach that his coaching team have been testing out.

Glasgow have put out probably their strongest team again, barring Matt Fagerson and Oli Kebble (who is on the bench) and a useful looking backline with what should (but doesn’t seem to be) first-choice midfield pairing of Sam Johnson and Huw Jones. Tommy Seymour has reverted to the wing where he’ll be tasked with marking his potential replacement in a Scotland shirt, Duhan van Der Merwe, who will make his 50th appearance for Edinburgh. Ruaridh Jackson starts at fullback but is presumably also covering 10 with Thomson and Pete Horne both injured.

The message Dave Rennie is sending with selection is: Glasgow aren’t going to roll over for anyone at home. Whether the team back it up with their performance remains to be seen.

Jamie Bhatti is the latest of a strong contingent of former Glasgow players in the Edinburgh ranks, but you get the sense the tide of Glasgow offloading surplus is perhaps shifting. Edinburgh, for example, are well blessed in the back row. Even with John Barclay and Luke Crosbie injured there’s no space for the hard-carrying Nick Haining. The Warriors could badly use an injection of fresh blood – what ever happened to Matt Smith?

Edinburgh’s side is strong overall but WP Nel is absent from the pack as is Matt Scott which is a real shame. It’s a great chance for George Taylor to measure up against international players though, having signed a new deal at Edinburgh this week.

This one shouldn’t be close if you read the form book, but I think it will be.

Key head to head: Plenty, as usual. Huw Jones vs Mark Bennett should be tasty with the 13 shirt still wide open for Scotland. These two leapfrogged each other early in their Scotland careers but both have fallen out of favour. Has Toony put in a call to get more game time for Jones? Both he and Benett are more than capable of filling that role for Scotland. Fraser Brown vs Stuart McInally is another fiery battle in prospect at the coal-face.

Most likely Zandbags: it’s always players who aren’t mates from Scotland camp so Pierre Schoeman and Zander himself are a very likely match up! Pretty much any of the South Africans and Ryan Wilson.

For the win: I think Glasgow might upset their recent form and defend their turf on this occasion, by a couple of points. I’ll also be surprised if either side gets 4 tries. The real shame about these games is that although they do give a good inside into head to heads going into the Six Nations in February, they are rarely spectacles of entertaining rugby with all the bragging rights at stake. With league points precious for both teams, that threatens to be the case this winter too. Glasgow by 2.

Glasgow Warriors: 15. Ruaridh Jackson, 14. Tommy Seymour, 13. Huw Jones, 12. Sam Johnson, 11. Kyle Steyn, 10. Adam Hastings, 9. George Horne; 1. Aki Seiuli, 2. Fraser Brown, 3. Zander Fagerson, 4. Scott Cummings, 5. Jonny Gray, 6. Rob Harley, 7. Callum Gibbins (capt), 8. Ryan Wilson.
Replacements: 16. George Turner, 17. Oli Kebble, 18. Adam Nicol, 19. Adam Ashe, 20. Tom Gordon, 21. Ali Price, 22. Nick Grigg, 23. Niko Matawalu.

Edinburgh Rugby: 15. Blair Kinghorn, 14. Darcy Graham, 13. Mark Bennett, 12. George Taylor, 11. Duhan van der Merwe, 10. Simon Hickey, 9. Henry Pyrgos; 1. Pierre Schoeman, 2. Stuart McInally (capt), 3. Pietro Ceccarelli, 4. Ben Toolis, 5. Grant Gilchrist, 6. Magnus Bradbury, 7. Hamish Watson, 8. Viliame Mata.
Replacements: 16. Mike Willemse, 17. Jamie Bhatti, 18 Simon Berghan, 19. Lewis Carmichael, 20. Jamie Ritchie, 21. Nic Groom, 22. Jaco van der Walt, 23. James Johnstone.

Referee: Ben Blain
AR1: Sam Grove-White
AR2: Hollie Davidson
TMO: Andrew Mcmenemy

Glasgow players unavailable: Siua Halanukonuka (calf), D’Arcy Rae (hand), Kiran McDonald (hip), Brandon Thomson (calf), Robbie Nairn (knee) and Pete Horne (head).

Edinburgh players unavailable: Rory Darge, Chris Dean, Damien Hoyland, Rory Sutherland, Roan Frostwick, Luke Crosbie, John Barclay, Cameron Fenton, Matt Scott, Fraser McKenzie

Oh, and Player Watch: Blade Thomson is on the bench for the Scarlets.

51 Responses

  1. It used to be ‘Edinburgh forwards vs Glasgow backs’; what’s noticeably this year is that both forwards and backs are pretty 50-50. On form, I’d take Kinghorn, Graham, Bennett, Johnson, van der Merwe, Hastings and Horne (3-4 split) in my combined backline, and Schoeman, Brown, Fagerson, Cummings, Gray, Bradbury, Watson and Mata (4-4 split) in my combined pack. The benches are another 4-4 split.

    Admittedly, a few Edinburgh players – Taylor, Hickey, McInally, Ceccarelli – run the opponents very close, so I’m inclined to say that we’ll edge this – but the Scotstoun crowd will play their part. This could very easily go either way.

    The Super 6 sees Heriots vs Stirling County and Ayrshire Bulls vs Watsonians. That second game is the big one, with second hosting first.

    Ayrshire Bulls have Lee Jones on the bench. Gordon Reid, Marshall Sykes, Lars Morrice, Ross Thompson, Matt Davidson and Ollie Smith all start.

    Mesu Kunavula packs down at N°8 for Watsonians; starting openside will be hoping for a third consecutive MotM performance. Jamie Hodgson also starts; Murray Scott is on the bench.

    For Heriots, Murray McCallum starts at N°3; Charlie Jupp, Dan Nutton, Cameron Hutchison and Rory McMichael also start, with Dan Gamble, Scott Riddell and Jack Blain benched.

    Murphy Walker, Sean Kennedy and Logan Trotter start for Stirling County; Grant Stewart, Matt Smith and Glenn Bryce are among the replacements.

  2. There is a bit of a pattern starting to appear for Glasgow of bouncing back for a game after a poor result, so I agree with Rory – Glasgow will win this but it probably won’t be pretty.

    I’m not sure we have the ability to back it up a week later, but after too many visits to Murrayfield as favourites and then bombing, it’ll be nice to go as underdogs and see if we can steal a result.

    1. Surely if you win at Scotstoun you’ll be considered favourites at Murrayfield as you would’ve already beaten us once?

      1. I don’t think so – over the past few seasons, these are pretty much the only fixtures that Edinburgh have turned up for, so I think they’ll rightly be favourites for both.

    1. I’m backing Huw Jones to put in a decent shift with limited service from Hastings, just so that there’s a scapegoat for every time Bennett or Taylor breaks the gainline and therefore Jones can be promptly dropped for the return leg if Warriors lose.

      1. Huw Jones will put in a decent shift but the only Jones we should be talking about is Eddie Jones. Get him up the road to EH12 and let the reformation begin.

  3. Stellar preview, Rory. I’m not sure it’s such a shame that Matt Scott is missing from the ‘pack’, although maybe he can solve Scotland’s loosehead issue if we can get him on the Chunk Diet Plan™.

    1. To be fair prior to his recent weight loss Scott was up at 110kg citing how easy he can put muscle on and having to watch out for getting too heavy.

      That’s heavier than Dell, Dickinson or Grant at loosehead. Not to mention McInally, Wilson, Ritchie, Watson, M.Fagerson and others in the rest of the pack. Could be the loosehead anchor we are looking for!

    1. Unless we’re leading at half-time. If we’re leading we’ll find a way to lose.

      You can take the animal out of the circus, but Embra will always still find a way to throw away more leads than if Bruce Banner became the Hulk while dogwalking.

  4. Player Watch (Premiership + London Scottish & Newcastle Falcons):

    Gloucester vs Worcester Warriors (tonight, 19:45)
    Chris Harris, Alex Craig
    Duncan Weir, Cornell du Preez

    Sale Sharks vs Northampton Saints (Saturday, 15:00)
    Byron McGuigan
    Rory Hutchinson, (Mitch Eadie)

    Leicester Tigers vs Exeter (Saturday, 15:00)

    Stuart Hogg

    Saracens vs Bristol Bears (Saturday, 15:00)
    Sean Maitland, (Duncan Taylor)
    (Luke Hamilton)

    Wasps vs Harlequins (Saturday, 15:00)
    (Jack Owlett)
    James Lang

    London Irish vs Bath (Sunday, 15:00)
    Blair Cowan, (Allan Dell)

    Jersey Reds vs London Scottish (Saturday, 14:00)
    (George Spencer)
    James Malcolm, Alex Toolis, Lewis Wynne, (Phil Cringle)

    Ealing Trailfinders vs Newcastle Falcons (Saturday, 15:00)
    Alun Walker, (Elliot Millar-Mills)
    John Hardie, Gary Graham [who starts at #8]

    Gary Graham’s younger brother Guy also turns out at #8 – for Yorkshire Carnegie.

    1. Cold night at Kingsholm , no wind , just cold hands and poor handling, a game of two halves. Weir was ok, Harris scored but was hooked (General consensus from the Lions den is not positive on his impact), Du Preez is really impressing the Worcester fans and fearless, getting around but outshone by Glaster’s Ben Morgan.

      1. Scrum held well against a strong Worcester pack however first half , the line out was poor , the jumpers lost at least two ,fumbled forward, cannot say it is was Craig or Mostert as both were other side in front of sheds. I put it down to Bressler being the better man. Nothing to note in the loose.

  5. Warriors going all in to win 1st leg. One has to imagine they would be delighted with 5 points from the 2 fixtures.

  6. I have concerns at Hooker .Brown and Turner are inconsistent at the line out and I just don’t rate Turner. I would prefer to see Grant Stewart getting game time. What has he done to be left out !

  7. Can see this being a tight affair. The selection of Bradbury over Ritchie is an interesting call, I would have had Ritchie starting ahead of Watson at 7 just now while the latter finds his feet again after injury. Often feel the backrow doesn’t have the same balance with Bradbury and mata in it and perhaps we lack slightly at the breakdown, It does however give us plenty of ball carrying options. Glad to see we have our best tight 5 on form selected and also glad to see kebble on the bench rather than starting, big day for the rookie loosehead.

    Interesting call to leave Sau out if he is fit (wasn’t listed as injured). He has been very good so far and Graham is lucky to get picked in my opinion, has looked well off the pace so far since coming back.

    For the first time in what seems ages, man for man I think Edinburgh are just as good if not better than their counterparts here which probably shows both Edinburgh resurgence and Glasgow’s demise. Conversely, usually it’s edinburgh who need to win these games to keep in touch with the playoffs but it’s the other way round this year. On that basis I think Glasgow will really raise their game today and wouldn’t surprise me if they edge a low scoring encounter.

  8. Rubbish game, loads of injuries, loads of ill-discipline… but Zander Fagerson has been absolutely outstanding. You don’t see Schoeman being scho(e)oled like that very often.

    1. OK, as soon as a posted that the game picked up. Great tries from Price and Kinghorn, and Warriors forwards continued their scrum dominance and some excellent rucking. Fagerson, though. Crikey.

      Will Scotland be pinching Petrus du Plessis soon…?

      1. They’d be better leaving him where he is to work with Zander every day. Pretty sure Cockers has some handle on the scrum, even if they took a bit of a pasting at the weekend.

  9. For me the game was spoiled by the lack of 15 v 15 for over 40 minutes of the game. Ref was a bit card-happy, the Mata, Turner and Groom YCs were very marginal…while similar incidents went entirely unpunished.

  10. I agree with Analyst & TeamCam re messy & yellow cards – the Edinburgh ones were questionable. Fagerson played like a beast in the scrum. Huw Jones typifies Glasgow (& Scotland’s) issues – on the front foot, attacking space he/Scotland look sensational, the problem is EVERYONE knows this, interesting selection issues for GT come Dublin

    1. Tbf I thought he looked short of confidence throughout. The sort of look that comes from being treated like you can’t do anything right. But he still put in the first turnover tackle of the game, and of course when the moment came for instinct the ball drops over his shoulder, he steps the man without thinking and sends price over. The answer is you just play him. You don’t give up sensational attack if you don’t have a Plan B. Put a Taylor or Dunbar inside him and with confidence and game time… I’d still like to see more of Johnson / Jones at Glasgow before being told that doesn’t work. It won’t happen though, he was hooked by Rennie at the first excuse possible and will be on his way south next year. With Jones gone and DTH, Matawalu, Seymour, Jackson not lasting forever this team will be in trouble if no one (particularly those out the door) is thinking ahead. Yesterday doesn’t paper over that.

      1. I would like to see Huw Jones leave Glasgow and not play for Scotland in the short term. Why ! Am I mad , well yes, I am a bit, I am mad that a man who had such a natural talent has been pulled down.

        That may be a bit strong, perhaps no one is actually pulling him down, maybe it is just a natural momentum, but he doesn’t fit it, not because he lacks talent , or guts, it is because everyone else around him is not in tune. Now , with his confidence shattered , it is a long way back. I was delighted to hear Dave Rennie recognise Huw so positively in the post match interview .

        I am not downing his colleagues , many of whom are great players and people but Jones was a player in a league we rarely see , had he grown up with the club and Scotland, as for example Hogg did, we would not have witnessed this catastrophic polarised form. It is obvious to me what the problem is. I am disappointed that we were not ready for him.

    2. Everyone knows this? That will be why he has such impact on games then – still turns it on when he has to.

      Jones problem is his coach – who still couldn’t resist hauling him off after 65mins.

      1. But Townsend picked Duncan Taylor instead, a man who had played practically no rugby in 2 years. Sorry , I do not agree, Townsend got that one wrong and with respect so have you, IMO.

      2. We must give credit to Toony for picking the rugged borderer, Chris Harris (14 caps , 2 tries), who is simply a world class over an inexperienced alsoran , namely the Currie Cup winning Huw Jones (23 caps 10 tries).

      3. I do not mention him , still haven’t , I can see no reason whatsoever for the inclusion of an average club player in our squad. Only Toony knows why.

    3. Unbelievable, ‘Huw Jones typifies ‘Glasgow and Scotland’s issues’. IMO he doesn’t, he was dropped from the side that went on to play in the most disastrous world cup in recent times. Huw Jones was no where near that debacle so why associate him with it. But plenty of others were , Hogg, Laidlaw, Darcy Graham for example.

  11. Exactly the turnover & the instinctive flair for the Price try shows Jones needs to play…. he is in a different class to the whole hearted & excellent club player (Grigg). Maybe a move south is win win. Jones getting regular game time & Kyle Steyn getting back to playing in (by far) his best position

  12. Well as a Glasgow fan, a win is a win. So much pride on display from both teams, defences were fierce and well organised. Its not been our year thus far but this Edinburgh are highly capable team and will make the play offs. Like many others, I’m dumbfounded about Jones’s treatment. Like Dunbar, he returns from international duty gets a rest, then is given what, 60 mins to get up to match fitness. He needs games. He played very well last night, lassoing Darcy G around the ankles as he sliced towards the line, after beating about 4 of ours, which was crucial. His break for the try was simply electric as was the angle. Two mins later, he harried and double hacked a ball which made them throw from ten metres from their own line. Sensational. Then he is hooked. We desperately need a 13 with creativity both at Glasgow and Scotland. We need a fit, confident Jones. Rennie has moved the team on, but losing Dunbar, the best defensive inside centre in the NH, compounded by not playing our most exciting outside centre for years, hasn’t done Glasgow or Scotland any favours.

  13. Dunbar and Jones. That would be a very complimentary pairing. Love to see Scotland look at it.

    1. I would like to see us picking:

      12: Scott or Hutchinson
      13. Bennett or Jones

      I think any combination of the above would be really handy. Hutchinson is the defence unlocker, Scott the more balanced and bigger alternative at 12, Jones the lethal finisher and Bennet is a game breaker.

      1. I also like the idea of Hutchinson at 12 as a double distributor with Russell. I think I’d still go for (dare I say it) Taylor at 13 tho. I think a lot of defensive and carrying duties have shifted more to 13 in the modern game and now Taylor has had regular game time with Saracens I still think he is the best option.

      2. Probably the only time I’ve ever agreed with you Scrummo! We’d better not talk about the forwards though!

  14. Having watched the game back again I agreed with all the yellow cards and thought the ref was pretty spot on.

  15. Having watched the game again, really Charlie Shiel should be on the bench (at least) Pygros & Groom are similar & both do not threaten (in the way that Price does). Bennett & VDM need the ball.

  16. For me there are 27 players Townsend & the SRU should focus on developing and managing to the best of there abilities building into the next WC.

    Dell, Kebble, Schoeman, McInally, Brown, Stewart, Fagerson, Berghan, Skinner, Cummings, Gray, Ritchie, Bradbury, Fagerson, Watson, Price, Horne, Hastings, Russell, Johnson, Hutchison, Jones, Bennett, Duhan VDM, Graham, Kinghorn, Hogg

    This core of a team would allow consistency and all of the above should be in there prime and not past it like we saw with Barclay, Taylor, Seymour during this WC.

    Up until that WC point all those players should at least be in the camps if they are not Scotland Qualified.

    There will still be spots available and players like Gilchrist/Nel/Thomson/Scott/Dunbar/Maitland will still have a role to play over the next year or 2.

    It allows Townsend some freedom to find his poor wildcard choices as well, and who knows what new world class talent we have come out of the blue … or what Kiwi with a Scottish granny arrives.

  17. Glasgow Warriors have announced that their attack coach for next season will be former Ireland centre and current Gloucester assistant coach Jonny Bell.
    The 45-year-old Ulster and Ireland legend, who won 36 caps between 1994 and 2003, will replace Jason O’Halloran who, along with fellow Kiwi and head coach Dave Rennie, is leaving Scotstoun at the end of the season.

  18. Hogg made two horrendous covering tackles on Leicesters Flanker and Jonny May conceding 2 tries for Exeter.

    Not impressed. Got sat on his arse on a 1vs1 for the first one.

    1. Wash your mouth out Neil. That is Exeter’s biggest star you are talking about. No one is bigger. He is there to show them how it is done. IMO he is rarely anywhere near a tackle , it must have been an accident. We have been putting up and shamed for speaking up for years.

  19. Gregor Townsend’s Christmas wish list:
    5. An attack coach.
    4. A number 8.
    3. A loose head.
    2. A defence coach.
    1. A De Lorean that can do 88mph.

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Scottish Rugby News and Opinion