Dave Rennie believes Glasgow Warriors have solved the “impatience and understanding” issues that caused them to lose to Edinburgh with a man advantage in last year’s 1872 Cup as they head for Murrayfield this week.
Rennie has reversed most of the changes he made for the second leg of the doubleheader against Lyon last week, restoring the Horne brothers, Rob Harley, Adam Ashe, Nick Grigg and DTH van der Merwe to his starting team for the first leg against their rivals, but he doesn’t accept that Edinburgh have a marked forward advantage over his squad.
“I’m not sure if embarrassed is the right word, but we were incredibly disappointed,” he said of last year’s game. “As we showed against Scarlets recently, when a team goes down to 14 they know they just have to work a little bit harder for each other.
“We had so many opportunities to put (Edinburgh) away in that game. We were loose, really inaccurate, and with 10 min to go Edinburgh were still in the game and they hurt us a couple of times.
“There’s no doubt that we’ve worked really hard over the last year. We’ve made really good shifts up front, we’re more accurate – we’ve done a lot of work on our skill-sets and our ability to build pressure and hang onto the ball for longer periods.
“I just felt we got impatient at times last year and if we hadn’t done the job in four or five phases we threw a miracle pass or tried to do something special. So, I think as a group we have a better understanding of what we are trying to do. And we played Edinburgh in the second game at home last year, a couple of days after Christmas, and our pack was really dominant that day.
“So, we know we’ve got that within us. If we’ve got expectations of winning this game, then we have to go really well up front.”
Grant Stewart will line up at hooker for Glasgow with a lot of pressure on him as the Academy graduate – he signed his first pro deal only this week – has a lot of action ahead with George Turner’s ankle injury meaning he joins Fraser Brown as being out for the best part of two months.
“Grant has been training with us for 18 months, and he’s had a few cameos – he played against Exeter last year when we beat them at home – so he’s played some big footy in amongst that,” continued Rennie.
“He’s ready to go, his set-piece has really developed well and he’s a really good athlete; good feet, very quick and can be really punishing defensively.”
Kevin Bryce, who was being switched to tight-head at Edinburgh in the last two seasons but has been “trimmed down” and returned to hooking duties with Glasgow, is the back-up with Academy player Robbie Smith the third in line.
Meanwhile Rennie just hopes that the derby and the deep knowledge the teams have about each other doesn’t make for a dour game.
“There is a heathy respect between the sides, a lot of these guys play together from an international perspective. We know a lot about each other and often that can lead to teams cancelling each other out and being dour affairs.
“But I think they were all pretty positive performances last year, and Edinburgh had the edge on us. We’re looking forward to it, it is a big game for us because if we can get a result we will really establish ourselves at the top of our pool in the PRO14.
“And we know that Edinburgh will be desperate because a loss this weekend will put them under a little bit of pressure in their group.”
Glasgow’s fourth re-signing of the week is fan favourite Niko Matawalu, who has seven tries in his last four appearances and has agreed an extension for another year at Scotstoun.
Team: Stuart Hogg; Tommy Seymour, Nick Grigg, Pete Horne, DTH van der Merwe; Adam Hastings, George Horne; Oli Kebble, Grant Stewart, Suia Halanukonuka; Rob Harley, Jonny Gray; Adam Ashe, Callum Gibbins (capt), Matt Fagerson. Replacements: Kevin Bryce, Jamie Bhatti, D’Arcy Rae, Tim Swinson, Chris Fusaro, Ali Price, Huw Jones, Niko Matawalu.