Match Preview - Edinburgh
Glasgow Warriors will take to the field for a competitive match for the first time in six months this weekend, as the Guinness PRO14 returns in style with the first of back-to-back clashes with Edinburgh.
With both fixtures to be hosted at BT Murrayfield due to government guidelines surrounding COVID-19, it will be the Warriors who will be the designated home side for rugby’s return in Scotland this weekend.
Taking charge of his side for the first time will be Glasgow Warriors Head Coach Danny Wilson, with the new boss joined by fellow summer additions Jonny Bell and Kelly Brown in the coaching box.
Indeed, with the destination of the 1872 Cup to be decided by the outcome of Saturday evening’s encounter, there could be some silverware to mark the occasion for Wilson’s men.
However, with Edinburgh still in the hunt for a home semi-final, no quarter will be given as soon as that first whistle is blown.
Here’s how the capital outfit are shaping up ahead of this weekend:
Rugby’s coming back and we’re ready#WhateverItTakes
— Glasgow Warriors (@GlasgowWarriors) July 26, 2020
Edinburgh form guide
Richard Cockerill’s men are currently sitting pretty atop Conference B as the Guinness PRO14 prepares to resume, having claimed victory in 10 of their 13 matches to date so far this campaign.
A statement-making 50-15 victory over Zebre eleven months ago set the tone for the season ahead, a Mark Bennett hat-trick the highlight on opening night.
The east coast outfit were on a five-match unbeaten streak in the Guinness PRO14 at the time of the competition’s suspension, with a hard-fought 14-6 win at home to Cardiff Blues Edinburgh’s last action before the six-month hiatus.
Indeed you have to go back to December for Edinburgh’s last defeat in the competition, with the Warriors the last team to get the better of the Conference B leaders in Guinness PRO14 action.
A trio of Scottish internationals headlined the departures from BT Murrayfield during the Guinness PRO14’s suspension, boasting 239 Edinburgh appearances between them.
Former Scotland captain John Barclay subsequently announced his retirement from rugby following the expiration of his contract, whilst Matt Scott and Dougie Fife joined Leicester Tigers and New England Free Jacks respectively.
Experienced squad members Simon Hickey and Pietro Ceccarelli were also amongst those to depart the capital over the summer, along with former Warrior Cammy Fenton.
A few new faces arrived at BT Murrayfield once the green light was given to return to training in line with government guidelines, including Scotland U20 duo Nathan Chamberlain and Marshall Sykes.
Second-rower Andrew Davidson made the journey along the M8 as he joined from Glasgow Warriors, the former Scotland U20 cap adding to Edinburgh’s depth in the engine room.
The club also secured the signature of Matt Gordon over the summer, with the centre making the journey north from London Scottish.
Ones to watch
The Warrior Nation will need no reminding of the threat posed by Edinburgh winger Duhan van der Merwe ahead of rugby’s return on Saturday evening. The South African-born flyer has been tearing it up on both the domestic and European front this campaign, with seven tries in the Guinness PRO14 to date in 2019/20.
One of the top openside flankers in the northern hemisphere, Hamish Watson will be looking to make himself a nuisance to the Warriors at the breakdown on Saturday evening. The 28-year-old – who made his 100th Edinburgh appearance in against Glasgow last April – was in good form prior to the Guinness PRO14 suspension, and will be looking to pick up where he left off when the whistle blows for kick-off.
Stuart McInally will once again be looking to lead from the front for Richard Cockerill’s side, as he packs down in the middle of the much-vaunted Edinburgh front-row. The former back-row and qualified pilot offers a threat with both ball in hand and at the breakdown, as well as being central to the Edinburgh set-piece.
It’s honours even for the 1872 Cup encounters in 2019/20 to date, with both sides having claimed victory in one leg of the December double-header.
The Warriors drew first blood at Scotstoun before Christmas, as tries from Ali Price and George Turner gave the then-Dave Rennie-led Warriors a 20-16 victory over their cross-country rivals.
A titanic tussle at BT Murrayfield the following weekend went the way of the capital outfit, as a brace of tries from Darcy Graham helped Edinburgh to even the series with a 29-19 win.
Mike Adamson will be the man in the middle for the deciding match in this season’s 1872 Cup, with the former Scotland 7s man set to take charge of his 44th match in the Guinness PRO14.
Sam Grove-White and Finlay Brown will be his assistants, whilst Neil Patterson will be on hand as TMO if required to intervene.
The match is live on Premier Sports 1 on Saturday evening, whilst supporters can also listen to full commentary on BBC Radio Scotland. Kick-off scheduled for 5.15pm.