SCOTLAND and Lions star Hamish Watson has dropped to the bench, with Luke Crombie being added to a rejigged Edinburgh back-row, ahead of Saturday afternoon’s 1872 Cup double-header second-leg at Murrayfield.
National team captain Jamie Ritchie has moved across to open-side while Fijian international Viliame Mata retains the No 8 Jersey, with Edinburgh looking to turnaround a 12-point deficit surrendered to Warriors during last weekend’s first leg clash at Scotstoun.
Meanwhile, Mark Bennett comes in at outside-centre for the capital outfit, with Matt Currie switching to inside-centre and James Lang missing out through a shoulder injury.
There are no other changes to the starting XV which means that Argentinean World Cup semi-finalist Emiliano Boffelli is once again on the bench having made his first appearance of the season for the club as a replacement last weekend following his recovery from a toe injury.
“We’re excited to give both Luke and Mark their opportunity tomorrow afternoon,” said Edinburgh senior coach Sean Everitt. “They are two guys that always give their all to the jersey and they’ll be fired up to get the start against Glasgow.
“This is a massive occasion for the club and a really important fixture for the season ahead,” Eveirtt added. “We know how much the intercity derby means to our fans – the squad can’t wait to represent the city and run out in front of well over 33,000 supporters.
“The fans will have a massive role to play come kick-off. We want to create a cauldron of noise inside Scottish Gas Murrayfield for what is set to be a proper derby decider between two sides that know each other well.
“Obviously, the players are very disappointed [after last weekend’s loss to Glasgow]. We believe that we could have gone to Scostoun to get a win. Unfortunately, that didn’t happen for us.
“We probably put together a 40 minute performance rather than 80 minute performance, in that we’ve got on top after 20 minutes, and then obviously let it go with 20 minutes left in the game. But it’s quite clear how that was done so we’re looking to rectify that, and obviously continue to do the things that worked for us. We defended really well, we won the territory battle, and we put ourselves in good position at times on the field.
“Obviously, for us, the big work-on is the consecutive penalties that we gave away,” he continued. “Glasgow have a really good maul as we saw the the other night and they get a lot of energy from that. I thought we did well to stop them. We stole a couple of their line-outs on our goal-line in the first and second half. So yes, we’ve got a plan around that but we need to stop them from getting in our 22 [because] all three tries that we conceded last week was due to giving them position in our 22 from penalties.
“No one goes out there to concede penalties on purpose. No one wants to be selfish on the rugby field. It’s just that the nature of the game there’s just so many variables that you have to consider when it comes to that. The week before the Glasgow game we played against Castres and gave away six penalties and we won the game comfortably … when Edinburgh concede less than 11 penalties we win … so it’s no secret on how important that is.”
Edinburgh Rugby (versus Glasgow Warriors at Murrayfield Stadium in the URC on Saturday at 3pm): W Goosen; D Graham, M Bennett, M Currie, D van der Merwe; B Healy, A Price; P Schoeman, E Ashman, W Nel, G Young, G Gilchrist ©, L Crosbie, J Ritchie, V Mata. Substitutes: D Cherry, B Venter, D Rae, M Sykes, H Watson, B Vellacott, C Scott, E Boffelli.
Unavailable: Luan de Bruin (back), Jake Henry (knee), Jamie Hodgson (ankle), James Lang (shoulder), Ben Muncaster (foot), Harry Paterson (concussion), Javan Sebastian (knee), Scott Steele (hip), Nathan Sweeney (hamstring), Tim Swiel (concussion).