Challenge Cup: Edinburgh v Bayonne: continuity key for capital outfit

Head coach Sean Everitt says back-rower Luke Crosbie should be back in selection mix for Saturday's Euro clash

Luke Crosbie will be in the selection mix for Edinburgh's Challenge Cup clash against Bayonne on Saturday following injury. Image: © Craig Watson - www.craigwatson.co.uk
Luke Crosbie will be in the selection mix for Edinburgh's Challenge Cup clash against Bayonne on Saturday following injury. Image: © Craig Watson - www.craigwatson.co.uk

CONTINUITY will be key to Edinburgh finding the form that head coach Sean Everitt believes his squad is capable of. The capital outfit dropped out of the URC play-off places after back-to-back defeats – without so much as a consolation bonus point – in South Africa during the last fortnight, and are now looking to reignite their season when they host Bayonne in the last 16 of the European Challenge Cup this Saturday.

Edinburgh’s work-rate and physicality has remained close to the level required, but there is a lack of spark in attack which is causing concern amongst supporters who have grown weary of watching their noisy neighbours along the M8 attract plaudits for their successful and entertaining all-court game under Franco Smith.

They should be boosted by the return of rugged back-rower Luke Crosbie for Saturday’s match, having recovered from the bicep injury he sustained during Scotland’s Six Nations opener against Wales at the start of February, but Edinburgh are still missing a raft of back-three potential game-changers.


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“Luke will be available for selection this week although we haven’t announced our team yet,” said Everitt. “It’s a great game for him to come back in. It might be a starting position or it might be on the bench, we’re not quite sure at the moment.

“But he’ll certainly add some physicality to our side. I thought we did quite well in that area in South Africa. If you look at our collisions at the weekend against the Sharks, I thought our boys stood up really well against a pack who pride themselves on physicality.

“In saying all that, Luke was the first choice No 6 in the Six Nations and we’ll always be happy to have him back.”

Everitt added: “We sent Boff [Argentinean full-back Emiliano Boffelli] for tests on Tuesday [on a back injury] and we’re awaiting the outcome. We’ll know soon whether he will be available for Saturday, but my gut-feel is that it’s unlikely.

Darcy Graham won’t play until the play-offs [due to  a groin injury], unless there is a miracle … and we’re hoping that he will be available for the play-offs, to be quite honest.

Harry Paterson, with his stress fracture [in his foot], ran for the first time on Monday. We’re hoping that he can return to training next week, but it should be the following week that he will be ready to play.”

On the plus side, centre Mark Bennett has recovered from a concussion to be back in the selection mix for this weekend.

“We haven’t had much continuity in our back three due to injury, so we’ve probably been lacking a bit of flow in our attack,” said Everitt, when asked to reflect on Edinburgh misfiring attack this season.

“We’ve had Wes [Goosen] out, Darcy out, Blair [Kinghorn] leaving, Harry Paterson out, and now we have Boffelli out as well. If you look at those names, they add a lot to a team on any given day.

“We’ve also got to look at the positives in that, and the other guys who are getting opportunities in different positions. We’re adding depth. It’s not ideal for Chris Dean to play on the wing, he’d never played there before but now he has. We do have options now if we’re in a bit of trouble in those positions.

“Fortunately Ben Vellacott and Ben Healy have been available so we have had consistency there, but it’s just about us putting together a 15-man performance, and we have struggled with that.

 

 

“Bayonne are a team who have done well in the Top 14. They’re sitting mid-table –  their log [mid-table] congestion is very similar to ours,” added Everitt.

“They’ve won most of the games at home, apart from the one on Sunday night against Toulon where they were well beaten. They will probably be disappointed with that performance because they gave away a lot of soft points.

“They have a big, physical pack of forwards and we will need to stop their momentum off the rucks. They carry a lot through their forwards then they have a very dangerous player in their 10, Camille Lopez.

“They call him the conductor. He organises their attack really well and has an array of attacking kicks, as well as the ability to move the ball quickly to the edges. He’s a guy we will have to keep our eyes on.”

Glasgow ground out a narrow victory away to Bayonne in the Champions Cup in December, and Everitt acknowledged that his team had learned lessons from that game.

“Very much so and we’ve seen that Bayonne can be beaten – not only the Glasgow game, but if you look at the game against Toulon on Sunday night too,” he said.

“We also know they don’t travel well. I don’t think they’ve won a game on the road as yet so we’ve got to see this as a great opportunity to get into the last eight of the competition.”


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About David Barnes 3891 Articles
David has worked as a freelance rugby journalist since 2004 covering every level of the game in Scotland for publications including he Herald/Sunday Herald, The Sunday Times, The Telegraph, The Scotsman/Scotland on Sunday/Evening News, The Daily Record, The Daily Mail/Mail on Sunday and The Sun.

3 Comments

  1. Won’t happen but perhaps this fixture is a chance to give some of the youngsters(though I couldn’t name any!) and those not getting much game time a chance together with players who weren’t on the SA tour. ie Crosbie,Gilchrist,Price,Rae,Williams,Young,MacBurnie,Carmichael.
    The thought that a victory almost certainly means that the squad has to head back on a plane out to SA to play the Sharks again next weekend is just utterly ridiculous!!

    • Yeah – it’s not great.

      Based on last week, I might be inclined to take a development team out to SA if we win on Saturday. The odds of winning out there are pretty slim and trying to do so with our frontline team will seriously hamper preparation for the URC run in.

      I’ve already bought my ticket for the Challenge Cup final but I’d be more than happy to watch two other teams if it meant Edinburgh were in the thick of the URC playoffs.

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