Edinburgh aren’t going to stun anyone with their gameplan to complete a festive double over Glasgow at Scotstoun; more of the same, with even more physicality.
Richard Cockerill named only one change to his starting XV for the second leg of the 1872 Cup, Scotland international Jamie Ritchie recovering from a quad injury with perfect timing as Luke Hamilton was unavailable after failing a HIA.
Ritchie was one Scotland’s best players in the Autumn Tests and was probable man of the match the last time he played against Glasgow in May, so it’s hardly a step down.
Cockerill believes that his side can reach the levels of last week at Murrayfield in a city where Edinburgh have won just once in a 15-year span, and were shut out 17-0 in the corresponding fixture last year.
“We have to have the same intensity this week,” he said. “We have got to be better than we were last year when we went there, simple as that. If we are as physical and committed and motivated as we were last week, we should be okay.”
Edinburgh won’t change the way they play, partly out of necessity due to manpower, partly because it worked last week, and partly because any other way would play into Glasgow’s hands, he continued.
“Every game is slightly different tactically but we are not going to win this game by chucking the ball from side to side and try to outplay them. That is not how beating this Glasgow team works.
“We will back ourselves to play our game. We are not going to allow ourselves to get drawn into a game that suits them. They will be hurting for obvious reasons. We have to make sure that we don’t get too far ahead of ourselves.
“We have to make sure we control them when they have the ball like we did last week. We have to make sure we have to exit very well, 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.”
Ritchie’s return meant “no stress” from what is a pretty settled side, with minimal changes for the last four weeks.
“Jamie had a great Autumn Series, he’s a really good young player and he’s been outstanding when he’s played for us this season,” added Cockerill.
“We’ve picked the best side that we can that’s available, and we’re going to go and do what we do. 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.”
And Edinburgh still need the points more than their rivals, given Munster also lost in Conference A last week leaving Glasgow still well clear.
“They’re sitting top of their conference and we’re sitting fifth in ours,” added Cockerill. “They’ve earned the right to have a little bit more of a buffer for the play-off spot.
“We’ve got to look at the bigger picture – it’s not just about beating Glasgow, it’s about getting the points.
“This game isn’t our season. We need the points cos 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.”
Edinburgh team: Blair Kinghorn; Darcy Graham, James Johnstone, Chris Dean, Duhan van der Merwe; Jaco van der Walt, Henry Pyrgos; Pierre Schoeman, Stuart McInally (capt), WP Nel; Grant Gilchrist, Ben Toolis; Jamie Ritchie, Hamish Watson, Bill Mata. Replacements: Dave Cherry, Allan Dell, Simon Berghan, Callum Hunter-Hill, Luke Crosbie, Nathan Fowles, Simon Hickey, Juan Pablo Socino.