Edinburgh v Glasgow reaction: We’re still underdogs, insists Richard Cockerill

Duhan van der Merwe says interceptions tries are likes buses: you wait all your career for one and two come along straight after each other

Duhan van der Merwe
Duhan van der Merwe's brace of tries against Glasgow Warriors helped Edinburgh to an impressive win. Image: Fotosport/David Gibson

EDINBURGH’S head coach Richard Cockerill says his team will go into next Saturday’s 1872 Cup second-leg clash at Scotstoun as underdogs, despite his team’s emphatic 23-7 victory over Glasgow Warriors in round one at Murrayfield this weekend.

“They’re top of their conference [in the PRO14], they’ve got a stellar squad of big names in that backline. We are Edinburgh and we do what we do – we haven’t got the depth that they have,” he said. “They are at home.  They have all these international players – the whole backline – all that stuff. We’ll just keep doing what we’re doing.

When it was pointed out to Cockerill that he is hardly scraping the talent barrel with a pack of internationalists at his disposal, the combative Englishman couldn’t resist pointing out how his direct and uncompromising approach to the game has revolutionised the capital squad from a rag-bag assortment of under-performing misfits into a well-oiled machine.

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“Only because they work hard and they’re well coached,” he said. “They’ve earned their spots. It wasn’t the whole Scotland pack when I arrived, was it?

“The sum of our parts is the key for us – that is the bit that is really important. For me, that’s what we trade off. They [Glasgow] have a huge amount of threat in that backline. If you leave Alex Dunbar and Huw Jones out of the squad or on the bench – that’s a pretty good squad.

“But I thought Chris Dean and Jimmy Johnstone were outstanding [in the centre] for us. The whole team worked bloody hard and if you do that then good things happen. Thankfully we got the right end of it. We don’t rely on individual brilliance because we haven’t got it. We rely on team spirit and good cohesion and good strategy.

“For me, it’s not about being favourites or not. It’s about making sure we are consistent,” he added. “When I arrived 18 months ago, this team was a bottom-four team that nobody respected. Now we are a team that has some cohesion and we have some bloody good men in that changing room. We are working hard, and they are bloody good players. Give it another 24 or 36 months.

“As I said last year, we ain’t going away. We’re going to stay here for a long time and we’re going to get better. That’s what we’re going to do.”

“We had a bit of luck tonight,” he concluded. “We forced things with our defence, they made some errors and we scored off intercepts. That’s unlikely to happen next week.

“We’ve got to sharpen our attack a little bit. But we play how we play, we do what we do, and will see where we get to.”

Van der Merwe’s boat comes in

Meanwhile, Edinburgh’s two try hero Duhan van der Merwe says that his two long-range interception tries should not be dismissed as mere flukes.

“We were just trying to take their space, because you can’t give Stuart Hogg and those boys any time on the ball,” he explained. “They like to play wide, that’s one of their things, so if you take their space they’re obviously going to force it and they forced it a lot because they were behind,” he explained. “So, I was just sitting in that space and lucky enough I managed to intercept and there was no-one at the back, which was happy days.

“I’ve never actually intercepted and scored before,” he added. “I only start picking up speed after 20 metres, so once I saw I had 80 metres to go I was smiling. I saw someone coming [whilst darting to the line for the first try] and I thought it could only be one guy, and that’s probably Hoggy, because I know he’s very fast, but luckily I saw him coming and I just made it.”

Edinburgh v Glasgow Warriors: Van men deliver for dominant home team

About David Barnes 3817 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.