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Glasgow keep their big guns while Edinburgh go with youth for second restart game

Edinburgh and Fiji No 8 Bill Mata.
Edinburgh and Fiji No 8 Bill Mata.

Edinburgh will be flying without a safety net with two callow half-backs in the second of their re-start games against Glasgow while the Warriors have picked a near full-strength side.

With the game a dead rubber in terms of the 1872 Cup – not up for competition – and the fates of both clubs in the play-offs set, the Warriors have resisted the temptation to experiment, making just three changes to their starting XV.

Richard Cockerill had promised ten changes from the side that won 30-15 last Saturday and is true to his word, but the Edinburgh head coach has surprisingly kept some of his big guns in Hamish Watson, Bill Mata and Duhan van der Merwe rather than cosset them away for next week’s Guinness PRO14 semi-final against Ulster.

At half-back, however, the Edinburgh coach has Nathan Chamberlain – with just a few minutes as a replacement on Saturday under his belt – and Charlie Shiel in tandem against the Scotland international pairing of Adam Hastings and George Horne for Glasgow.

“We’ve given some of our younger guys an opportunity,” said Cockerill. “We’ve got a good squad with plenty of depth, so it’s a great chance to blood some new players and give them some experience playing in a derby match.

“We’re also looking after our squad and some of those key guys who are important to the way we play. We want as full and as fit a compliment of players as we can going into the Semi-Final.

“The team we’ve selected is definitely exciting and we want to keep momentum going, so we’re looking forward to facing Glasgow in another important fixture for this club.”

Chris Dean will skipper Edinburgh for the first time and Darcy Graham returns as expected on the wing forming Edinburgh’s accepted first choice back three with Blair Kinghorn and Van der Merwe.

Upfront Cockerill changes the entire front row, and with fit second rows at a premium for Edinburgh, Scotland back rower Nick Haining will see duty as a lock alongside Jamie Hodgson. Academy players Marshall Sykes and Roan Frostwick and summer signing Matt Gordon all make their first appearances on the bench.

Glasgow meanwhile have leaned “a little bit more to consistency”, said head coach Danny Wilson.

“We’ve given a lot of the boys from last week the chance to go again,” he said. “I’m intrigued by what Edinburgh have done, but they bring Magnus Bradbury and Darcy Graham in, those are two guys who in theory would make them stronger in those areas.”

Although Glasgow have nothing to gain other than manoeuvring themselves for another block of training ahead of the new season in a month’s time, there is definitely a desire to win the game.

“Motivation is not a problem, it’s a derby,” added Wilson. “For 60 minutes of the first game we felt we were in a position where we should have gone on to win it, but fair play to Edinburgh, they finished the game strongly and we didn’t finish it very well. From a game-management point of view especially, that’s something that we need to learn.

“You’ve got to stay in the arm-wrestle in those scrappy affairs and not open the door for the opposition. We felt that we opened the door twice for the opposition at the end of the game, and they took it, to be fair to them.”

Along with Horne, Tom Gordon will start at open-side after a strong cameo off the bench in the first game. The other starting XV change sees Stafford McDowall replace Peter Horne in midfield, while Fraser Brown will play his 100th game for Glasgow and skipper the side.

Leone Nakarawa was expected to be on a plane back to Scotland on Thursday, and the Fijian second row will have to undergo a two-week quarantine period when he arrives, said Wilson.

“We’ll assess him once that’s done and determine how long it will be before he can come back, but we’ll have just a two-week period after his quarantine before the season starts,” he said.

Glasgow’s other Fijian allowed to return home, hooker Mesu Dolokoto, has already returned and is currently in his fortnight’s quarantine spell.

Around 700 spectators – all Edinburgh season-ticket holders – will form the first live audience at a major Scottish sporting event since the coronavirus lockdown. The fans will be socially distanced – if not from the same household – and masked, with struct regulations on access and exit to the stadium.

Edinburgh team: Blair Kinghorn; Darcy Graham, James Johnstone, Chris Dean (capt), Duhan van der Merwe; Nathan Chamberlain, Charlie Shiel; Pierre Schoeman, Mike Willemse, Simon Berghan; Nick Haining, Jamie Hodgson; Magnus Bradbury, Hamish Watson, Viliame Mata.

Replacements: Stuart McInally, Rory Sutherland, WP Nel, Marshall Sykes, Luke Crosbie, Roan Frostwick, Jaco van der Walt, Matt Gordon.

Glasgow: Huw Jones; Tommy Seymour, Nick Grigg, Stafford McDowall, Ratu Tagive; Adam Hastings, George Horne; Oli Kebble, Fraser Brown (capt), Zander Fagerson; Richie Gray, Scott Cummings; Ryan Wilson, Tom Gordon, Matt Fagerson.

Replacements: George Turner, Charlie Capps, Enrique Piretto, Rob Harley, Chris Fusaro, Ali Price, Peter Horne, Robbie Nairn.