Glasgow v Edinburgh: Richard Cockerill demands improvements from his team

Visitors' coach will employ similar tactics to last week but expects his side will have to up their game if they are to win again

Jamie Ritchie
Jamie Ritchie is back in the Edinburgh pack for today's match against Glasgow Warriors. Image: ©Fotosport/David Gibson.

EDINBURGH beat Glasgow convincingly last week, are virtually unchanged for today’s game at Scotstoun, and will employ essentially the same tactics that worked so well seven days ago. But Richard Cockerill has warned his squad that a simple repeat performance will not be enough to defeat the Warriors, and that significant improvement will be required if they are to retain the 1872 Cup with a match to spare.

The only alteration to the starting line-up sees Jamie Ritchie to the back-row in place of Luke Hamilton, who was concussed in last Saturday’s 23-7 win at BT Murrayfield and has not passed the return-to-play protocols according to Cockerill. That settled selection is reflected in the similar game plan Edinburgh will have for the match: keep it tight and try to pressurise the Warriors into making mistakes. But, while it worked last week, with both the team’s tries coming from interceptions, the coach has demanded an all-round improvement from his side, knowing that the Warriors are likely to have more of a cutting edge in attack.

“We just need to make sure we do what we did last week and do it better,” Cockerill said. “We’re not going to win this game by chucking the ball from side to side and try to outplay them. That’s not how beating this Glasgow team works.

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“We have to make sure we control them when they have the ball like we did last week. We need to make sure our set piece and defence is very strong. If we get that right we will give ourselves opportunities to win the game.

If we let them play and get into their rhythm they have game-breakers all through their side. That Glasgow back line is pretty sharp, isn’t it?

We will back ourselves to play our game. We’re not going to allow ourselves to get drawn into a game that suits them.

In it to win it

“It’s going to be some contest. They’ll be hurting, for obvious reasons. They’re a very good team who we respect hugely, but we’re going there with the intention to win, simple as that.”

Edinburgh have won only once in Glasgow in the last 15 years, and last year failed to record a single point, losing 17-0. The coach does not regard that game last December as an unmitigated failure, and pointed out that his team were only 12-0 behind, and thus still in with a chance of a losing bonus, until the final minutes of the match. Nonetheless, he accepted that the Warriors were in the ascendancy from the opening stages, and that Edinburgh will have to ensure there is no repeat today.

“We’ve got to start well and not let them get into their rhythm,” Cockerill added. “They got into their rhythm very early last year, but we’ve got to make sure that we start well and meet their physicality with our physicality.”

Warriors coach Dave Rennie has made six changes to his team, and Cockerill expects Glasgow to be fired up for a match which could see them tighten their grip on PRO12 Conference A. “They’ve brought in six internationals, so they have a very strong side. We expect a very tough battle and we look forward to meeting the challenge.

Never a dull moment

“We’re a pretty settled team. We’ve picked the best side that we can that’s available, and we’re going to go and do what we do. We’re looking forward to the challenge. It’s certainly not boring, is it? Because we won last week it makes them a bit spikier, it makes the challenge more difficult for ourselves, but we’re going there to go and test ourselves against a very, very good side.

“We know what they’ll come with. We have to match that and we have to be better than we were last week. We need the points. We’ve got to look at the bigger picture – it’s not just about beating Glasgow, it’s about getting the points.

“This isn’t our season. We need the points because we are where we are in the table and we’ve dropped some games that we shouldn’t have.  Come tomorrow afternoon after the game we’ll know exactly where we are in our development as a team.”

Glasgow Warriors: Stuart Hogg; Tommy Seymour, Alex Dunbar, Pete Horne, Niko Matawalu; Adam Hastings, Ali Price; Oli Kebble, Grant Stewart, D’Arcy Rae, Tim Swinson, Jonny Gray, Ryan Wilson, Callum Gibbins, Matt Fagerson. Substitutes: Kevin Bryce, Jamie Bhatti, Siua Halanukonuka, Rob Harley, Chris Fusaro, George Horne, Sam Johnson, DTH van der Merwe.

Edinburgh: Blair Kinghorn; Darcy Graham, James Johnstone, Chris Dean, Duhan van der Merwe; Jaco van der Walt, Henry Pyrgos; Pierre Schoeman, Stuart McInally, WP Nel, Ben Toolis, Grant Gilchrist, Jamie Ritchie, Hamish Watson, Bill Mata. Substitutes: David Cherry, Allan Dell, Simon Berghan, Callum Hunter-Hill,  Luke Crosbie, Nathan Fowles, Simon Hickey, Juan Pablo Socino.

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About Stuart Bathgate 1427 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.