Looking Ahead to Edinburgh v Munster in Aftermath of Leinster Win
Edinburgh charted a somewhat surprising victory over Leinster on Friday night, with head coach Richard Cockerill describing the result as an “ugly win”. Here, Erin McRitchie looks at the areas of improvement which Edinburgh need to address before facing Munster next weekend.
Following a win against Leinster in the PRO14, Edinburgh will now turn their attention to a Champions Cup quarter final clash with Munster at BT Murrayfield next Saturday. (Photo: Edinburgh Rugby twitter)
The determination of the front row
It has been no secret as of late that the Edinburgh pack has become, in many ways, a force to be reckoned with. After all, it was just last week that an all-Edinburgh tight five were named to face England in the Calcutta Cup clash.
On Friday night, against Leinster, the front row looked set to reap all the praises as two out of the three starters were try scorers – Ross Ford and WP Nel both crossed the whitewash – whilst Pierre Schoeman was his consistent work-horse self on the loosehead.
They will have to be at their most diligent and infringement free come next weekend, however, as it will most likely be a full-strength Munster team which travels to BT Murrayfield – with all their internationalists brought back in to the fold.
Munster can boast just as dominant a front row, with their personnel including the likes of Dave Kilcoyne, Stephen Archer, Niall Scannell and John Ryan. Put simply – it will not be an easy scrum or lineout battle for the Edinburgh pack, front rows especially. So, Richard Cockerill must inspire his team to a near perfect performance to ensure there are no foolish errors made against the Munster front eight.
Lineout needs to improve
Staying on the talking point of forwards, the lineout performance needs to be worked upon in the run up to the Munster Champions Cup quarter final clash. Granted, against Leinster, Edinburgh were without their most in-form lock partnership – Grant Gilchrist was rested following the Six Nations, so Ben Toolis paired Fraser McKenzie – but experience was still featured.
Thankfully for the home side, the majority of the possession which Leinster stole at the set piece was relinquished due to infringements, such as knock-ons. This will not be an acceptable silver lining against the dominant Irish province side Munster. Tadgh Beirne especially has been in impressive form, and so, Edinburgh will have to look to quell the danger he poses at the set piece.
Present a tough back row
The barnstorming Edinburgh back row which we have come to expect as a staple of the team this season will be an integral part of the capital side’s game when coming up against the likes of CJ Stander, Peter O’Mahony and Jack O’Donoghue.
The youth and ingenuity of Magnus Bradbury and Jamie Ritchie, the raw power of Bill Mata and the doggedness of Hamish Watson will all presumably feature for Cockerill’s side and must be at their scrummaging, and ball carrying bests.
Need more Darcy involvement
Another breakout performer – for club and country – this season has been the electric and entertaining Darcy Graham. The Hawick-born winger has on many an occasion clinched the lead for the Edinburgh men.
His battles with the opposition backs have been nothing but bewildering – after all, who would have ever thought the 5ft 7in, near 12 stone borders man would be able to knock Toulon centre Mathieu Bastareaud backwards, seemingly without batting an eyelid?
Add in his talent for hunting out the ball – popping up on the shoulder of one of his fellow backs as a pass option – and he poses a constant attacking threat. And yet, he still manages to confidently defend as well. Graham must surely feature in the quarter final, perhaps also on the score sheet?
Discipline needs to be 100%
All the attacking prowess and defensive stronghold in the world will not get a team anywhere in a match if the discipline is not up to par – a team is only as good as its weakest link.
Whilst Edinburgh may have been able to cover their missing man against Leinster – Fraser McKenzie was shown a yellow card by referee Ben Whitehouse for a dangerous tackle on centre Noel Reid who went on to fail his HIA – they cannot afford to have such a happening against Munster.
Every breakdown attended must be without infringement, every lineout must be thrown straight and taken legally by the jumper, every scrum must remain stable and every rolling maul must not have any entrances from the side – and that is just to name a few.
A game to look forward to
Ultimately, in spite of everything, Edinburgh v Munster will be an unmissable encounter. The teams meet at the fortress known as BT Murrayfield in a highly contested Champions Cup quarter final. Both sides will be sure to name their best starting XV, with adequate replacement support on the bench.
And so, you won’t want to miss all the action which kicks off at 12:45pm on Saturday 30th, though if you can’t make it to the stadium – which will already be filled with more than 30,000 people – then you can catch all the action on Channel 4.