Scottish Rugby News and Opinion


Is Edinburgh’s Attack Broken?

Edinburgh travelled to Scotstoun on Friday night aiming to retain the 1872 Cup. Everything was pointing in the right direction. Key International players returning, Glasgow not performing to their best and they have held the cup for the last 3 years. Simple game then?

Edinburgh started the game well with lots of big carries, breaking tackles and pressure on Glasgow. This however did not seem to faze Glasgow at all, in fact Glasgow seemed to strengthen and buckle down, as if they were expecting it.

Wave after wave of big Edinburgh forwards asked for the ball to crash it up, offload to another big forward and crash it up. This works for Edinburgh gaining ground into the oppositions twenty-two but after a few phases, the ball is turned over and we start again. Glasgow seemed to have Edinburgh’s number on Friday night in defence and regularly stopped Edinburgh’s forward motion in their twenty-two.

Is Edinburgh’s attack broken?

Set piece continues to be a strength, Schoeman, Nel and Cherry frustrated Glasgow’s scrummagers with Schoeman and Cherry both scoring maul based tries in the first half and Stuart “Rambo” McInally looking his old self and scoring off a maul in the second half. Edinburgh’s set piece dominance pushed Glasgow into ill-discipline regularly. Maul collapsing and side entries attracting the referee’s attention with Rob Harley going to the bin after swimming up the maul going for the ball carrier. Our forwards are a strong unit and playing well, I am a happy fan!

Attack, however, is where I have my problem. I may be an old prop and a bit of a dinosaur but even I know the basics of attacking a soft shoulder, hips square, step inside and try to open up the defence. Matt Scott and Mark Bennett were constantly causing problems last season, always getting the ball and their hands through a tackle to offload and
cause opposition defence problems. Once Bennett reminded Ali Price what to expect when he goes to South Africa and left the field, Edinburgh’s attack were nowhere.

Forwards still thundered up the field: Luke Crosbie is looking strong and on for an International cap in the summer, soft hands from Schoeman released the ball to another oncoming Edinburgh forward trying to burst over the gain line but Glasgow were usually ready for them. In defence they attacked the ball, attempted jackals and constantly tried to rip the ball out of the hands. Too many times, Glasgow dealt with Pyrgos’s slow ruck attention and counter-rucked their way into attack.

Big forward carries are great for narrowing a defence and allowing a back line to find gaps or make holes if the scrum-half produces quick ball, this seems to be a problem. Pyrgos, again failed to capitalise on the forwards sucking in Glasgow players, whether it was poor ball presentation or his own ruck speed (I won’t mention his acting skills ).

Every time Edinburgh got on the front foot, Glasgow had enough time to reorganise and climb all over our attackers who insist on being predictable. The complete opposite of Benneton’s game against Glasgow two weeks ago. Charlie Shiel came on and made an immediate difference but it was too little too late.

Glasgow deserved the win (Kebble deserved a red, even though I would probably have done worse to a niggly nine when I played), and I congratulate them on having Edinburgh’s number this time.

Next week it would be nice to see Hornito get some game time too. If not, we could use him in a Blue and Orange shirt!

1 Response

  1. Congrats on what I believe is your first piece.
    The cliche is that a good team is more than the sum of it’s individual parts. Edinburgh’s backs are clearly far less than the sum of their individual parts – all good ( some great ) players but really not clicking together with any sort of consistency. It’s not as if Edinburgh lack possession.
    I do think the discussion element missing from your piece is the coaching they receive – has to be a big factor. The league’s best strike runner is getting the ball in his hands, standing still, two or three times a game max. Same for Sau, although the passes he gets are usually a foot above his head. And the most positive rugby they’ve played in the backs all season is when Kinghorn has played 10. All the raw talent is there, but it’s just not happening team wise.

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Scottish Rugby News and Opinion