Edinburgh are still rank underdogs in 1872 Cup II, despite beating Glasgow five times out of the last six meetings and needing just 14 men to do it for the majority of last week’s first leg.
At least that’s what head coach Richard Cockerill continues to claim, as he named a team with four changes, two enforced, from the side that carried off the unlikely 18-17 victory at Murrayfield. The tactical changes are Damien Hoyland for Dougie Fife on the wing, and Jamie Ritchie coming into the back row for Cornell du Preez, Viliame Mata moving to No 8.
Cockerill clearly wants to build a sense of anger and injustice rather than allow his team to be too pleased with themselves after the Murrayfield win, although there continue to be no arguments about Simon Berghan’s red card or his ban. Instead, it’s the reception the win got that he’s using as fuel.
“I thought we played pretty well considering the circumstances,” he said. “I get a little bit frustrated that it was all about how poorly they played that let us win, really. I thought we played very well. I disagree that we dragged them into an arm-wrestle.
“We’re going to go (to Scotstoun) and try and win the game. It’s as simple as that; we’re not satisfied with one performance – we’ve got to go there and put our best game out on the field again.”
It’s not “exciting Glasgow against turgid Edinburgh” as some like to paint it, he added.
“We train at least one day every week at Oriam on a 4G pitch and the quick pitch suits our game as well,” he argued. “We’ve been playing good rugby and scoring lots of tries, in fact I’m pretty sure we scored as many as they did on Saturday.
“Look, they’re a better team than us. But we proved last week that we’re a good enough side to stay in the battle and, if you don’t put us away, to win the game.
“This week, it’s another one-off game. They’ve got no God-given right to win because they’re Glasgow.”
The enforced changes are perhaps where Edinburgh might be vulnerable. Rory Sutherland’s shoulder injury and Berghan’s suspension means Edinburgh have six international props sidelined, and they have three emergency front row signings in the squad and youngster Murray McCallum starting.
“They should, really, shouldn’t they?” said Cockerill when informed Dave Rennie thought his side would have an advantage in the set scrum. “They’re not missing anybody and we’re missing four international loose heads and two tightheads as well as the most-capped hooker in Scottish history.
“So, he’s right that they should be better, but we’ll see. Murray has done a really good job on both sides. Matt Shields is obviously new to the club, and and we’ve got two relatively unknowns, to sit on the bench. I like the challenge.”
But Cockerill believes the fate of his side, as it did on Saturday, depends on them.
““We’ve spoken the whole season about being constant in our effort and making sure we’re professional the whole time,” he said.
“I don’t care what Glasgow say about our scrum or about how poorly they played, or it wasn’t how well we played. This is about Edinburgh, and us going there and putting our best foot forward. If we do, we’ll give ourselves a chance to win.”
And even if the 1872 Cup ends up back in Edinburgh hands before 2017 is out, it’s not a huge issue for Cockerill.
“My only interest is in our performance and in the league points,” he said. “With all respect to the 1872 Cup it’s not high on my list of priorities.
“I said last week that if we won we hadn’t solved all our problems and that if we lost it wasn’t a disaster, and it’s exactly the same this week. We’ve won one game by a point at the death and we took our luck on the day – that’s fine, but I thought we played pretty well as well.
“We’ve still got lots of things to build on, and we’re still not in the same calibre of team as Glasgow.”