Edinburgh v Glasgow Warriors: coaches’ reaction to convincing home win

Richard Cockerill praises his team's defence as Dave Rennie accepts the Warriors were below par.

Glasgow players Grant Stewart, Jonny Gray and Adam Hastings
Glasgow players Grant Stewart, Jonny Gray and Adam Hastings try to get to grips with Edinburgh centre Chris Dean. Image:©INPHO/Craig Watson.

THERE was a time when a victory over Glasgow would have been the cause for wild celebrations by the Edinburgh squad. Not any longer.

Perhaps in part that is because such results are now almost routine – tonight’s 23-7 win was the capital side’s seventh defeat of the Warriors in the last nine outings. But the real reason for the almost understated manner in which the ostensible underdogs reacted to their triumph was that Richard Cockerill now expects a lot more of them. Winning matches is what rugby is all about, after all, and the head coach wants his players to see victories as part of the job, not as some optional extra.

Cockerill and his assistants had a clear plan in place to get the better of Glasgow, and his players carried out that plan almost to the letter in this first 1872 Cup match of the season. They knew that the key was to pressurise the Warriors into errors, and that was exemplified by Duhan van der Merwe’s two tries, both of which came from interceptions of passes from Adam Hastings.

“I thought we defended really well tonight,” Cockerill said. “When they’re under pressure it makes them force the game and they make errors. We forced opportunities by putting them under pressure defensively.

“They’re a really good team, but we’re really pleased that we put a performance in to be able to beat them and at times make them look a little bit ordinary. And they ran out of ideas.

“They make errors, they’re high risk/high reward and if you let them play like that, they will hurt you. We managed to control that reasonably well tonight.”

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Stuart McInally sings praises of rival Grant Stewart

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On a roll

Edinburgh have now won three big games in succession, having recorded home and away victories over Newcastle Falcons in the Champions Cup before this. Cockerill will now simply demand of his players that they go out and do the same again on Saturday, when they travel to Glasgow for another game which doubles up as an 1872 Cup match and a PRO14 fixture.

“All the good sides I’ve played in and coached, they rock up every week and put a performance in,” the coach continued. “We’ll go to Scotstoun with pretty much the same team and try to win. That’s just how it is. We’ve been a protected species up here for too long. That’s the real world, proper rugby. Let’s turn up week in week out and perform. That’s the game.”

Under pressure

The game for Dave Rennie is to find ways of shoring up his under-pressure scrum – something which will be no easy matter given his first-choice hookers, Fraser Brown and George Turner, are both out injured for the next two months. If the Warriors coach can get the set piece functioning more efficiently, his team should then have a platform which will enable them to stay true to their spirit of adventure without becoming as reckless as they were at times here.

One way of dealing with the scrum, according to the Warriors coach, is to ensure a fair contest – something he will bring up with the officials before the return game. “You’ve got to push straight,” he said. “If they are just going to walk around they are constantly walking around and getting rewarded for it. Good on them for keep doing it. “Refs have been much tougher. If you don’t push straight you don’t get rewarded, but it wasn’t the case tonight. We will ask them questions round that and hopefully we will get a better result for next week.”

The coach also thought the yellow card shown to his captain, Callum Gibbins, was harsh. “He was still coming back,” he said of the incident, in which the openside interfered with an Edinburgh attempt to recycle metres from his own line. “Maybe somebody else should have yellow-carded. He was left scratching his head.”

More generally, however, having made those temperate criticisms of the referee, Rennie acknowledged that his team were second best in most departments of the game, and that this was not simply a game in which refereeing decisions had cost his team the game.

“We were really disappointed with our ball in hand,” he continued. “We knew they would kick a lot to us and they were going to press really high, but we were too lateral and then tried to throw passes over the top and we were exposed.

“Look, that was disappointing, as it was nowhere near the standard at which we’ve been playing. We have to be able to adjust at how the game is going. The key is we can’t play flat on the line against these guys and with no width.

“We had a plan against these guys and knew how they would defend, but didn’t do it well enough. I’m not going to tell you guys what it is, as we can still hopefully try to do it next week.”

They will almost certainly still try to do it with Hastings in the No 10 jersey, for all that the stand-off was taken off by Rennie in the immediate aftermath of Van der Merwe’s second try, scored when a floated pass drifted forwards into his path.  “Yes, he made a couple of errors tonight and he’ll learn from that,” Rennie said of Hastings. “That’s on the big stage in front of the whole Scottish public. Look, he’s a good kid and a good player but tonight wasn’t his best. We all have to look at how we played and performed and prepared.”

Edinburgh v Glasgow: Edinburgh player ratings

Edinburgh v Glasgow: Glasgow Warriors player ratings

About Stuart Bathgate 1430 Articles
Stuart has been the rugby correspondent for both The Scotsman and The Herald, and was also The Scotsman’s chief sports writer for 14 years from 2000.