Glasgow Warriors v Edinburgh – 1872 Cup First Leg Preview

This Saturday will see Edinburgh Rugby and Glasgow Warriors go into derby battle in the first leg of this season’s 1872 Cup. The first match will see the teams face off at Scotstoun just four days before Christmas. Erin McRitchie previews all the top talking points, and identifies her players to watch.

Cockerill is ready for the derby affair. (Photo: Edinburgh Rugby twitter)

Cockerill’s Advice for the Referee

Edinburgh head coach Richard Cockerill has not held back in delivering his estimations of the standard and quality of refereeing displayed in the PRO14 this season. And so, never one to go against form, Cockerill spoke to the media this week about how pivotal a role discipline will play in his side’s first encounter with rivals Glasgow Warriors.

“We want it to be hard,” he stated. “We don’t want to compromise ourselves by being too nice – these Edinburgh players, generally, can be quite nice, quite polite public school boys. Those rough Glaswegians – they’re a bit different to us.

“So, we want to make sure we don’t get intimidated. We want to be physical and do what we want to do.”

The derby fixture will see English born, SRU representing, referee Ben Blain given the whistle in the middle for only the sixth time. The young official, who has refereed in the European Challenge Cup, made his PRO14 officiating debut in the Dragons v Munster game in January this year.

“We’ve got a relatively inexperienced referee. It’s only his sixth PRO14 game, so there’ll be some pressure on him,” Cockerill admitted. “Glasgow, notoriously, especially at home, they complain a lot and they appeal a lot. There is a lot of shouting and whinging especially from nine, 10 and two. We will get on with our game. We don’t give many penalties away as a team, but it is going to be vital.

“[We’ll have] two good forward packs, two teams that drive very well, two teams that when they get into the opposition 22 generally come away with points. So, discipline is going to have to be good. I don’t want either team with guys in the sin-bin or sent-off because we want it to be a good, hard-fought game.

“And as long as we win, it will be a good day.”

Van Der Merwe can often be seen running away from a defence, heading towards the line with ball in hand. (Photo: Edinburgh Rugby twitter)

South African Van Der Merwe’s view on the Scottish derby

Edinburgh winger Duhan Van Der Merwe – who will receive mark his 50th cap in this weekend’s first 1872 Cup encounter – is now in his third season with the capital side, and finds himself truly entering into the mentality of the Scottish derby encounter, despite being of South African birth.

“Well I couldn’t quite understand the excitement at first but since I’ve been here it’s been ‘oh we really need you to be up for the Glasgow game’. This is my third season here now and there is a real buzz throughout the week.”

Van Der Merwe continued: “Playing against a team like Glasgow, they play a really exciting brand of rugby and obviously people are going against each other for Scotland spots and all that kind of stuff so it’s nice and I’m looking forward to it.”

Edinburgh, in fact, now boast seven South African players in their ranks, whilst Glasgow have a couple of their own Afrikaan influencers. And so, the Scottish derby is sure to take on an additional edge.

Bennett is relishing the idea of going up against his former team. (Photo: Edinburgh Rugby twitter)

Bennett’s Return to Old Stomping Ground

Mark Bennett certainly knows the importance of the 1872 Cup – and he knows it from both sides. The Edinburgh centre previously played for Glasgow Warriors for seven years before moving over to the capital in 2017.

Bennett spoke earlier in the week about the opportunity to return to the stadium that was his home for the beginning of his professional rugby career: “I’m looking forward to it. I’ve had plenty of great days at Scotstoun and hopefully I am going to have another one this weekend, except in slightly different colours this time. It’s a good place to go and play.”

“I’m a west coaster. I grew up in Ayrshire and always supported Glasgow, I have a load of good mates there and there will be plenty of people I know at the game as well, so I’m wanting to get out there and prove myself.”

Professional sport is never fully sentimental, however, so Bennett is still relishing the chance to play his best game against his former club. He admitted: “I wouldn’t say that I want to rub it in, but I want to win – it’s as simple as that.”

The Teams

Edinburgh: B Kinghorn; D Graham, M Bennett, G Taylor, D Van Der Merwe; S Hickey, H Pyrgos; P Schoeman, S McInally, P Ceccarelli, B Toolis, G Gilchrist, M Bradbury, H Watson, B Mata. Subs: M Willemse, J Bhatti, S Berghan, L Carmichael, J Ritchie, N Groom, J Van Der Walt, J Johnstone.

Glasgow Warriors: R Jackson; T Seymour, H Jones, S Johnson, K Steyn; A Hastings, G Horne; A Seiuli, F Brown, Z Fagerson, S Cummings, J Gray, R Harley, C Gibbins, R Wilson. Subs: G Turner, O Kebble, A Nicol, A Ashe, T Gordon, A Price, N Grigg, N Matawalu.  

The 1872 Cup fixtures are always some of the most interesting in the Pro14 calendar for both sides. (Photo: Edinburgh Rugby twitter)

One’s to Watch

From Edinburgh:

Duhan Van Der Merwe: the scintillating South African winger can pose a danger to any defence, whether it be with his outrageous pace or his inexplicable ability to break through tackle after tackle on his way to crossing the line for the ever important five points.

Simon Hickey: many an Edinburgh try would not have been converted for the full seven points this season if Kiwi fly half Hickey were not on the field. The half back has well and truly grasped the opportunity to show his worth as a leader of the Edinburgh attack this season, keeping Jaco Van Der Walt stationed on the bench for another week.

Magnus Bradbury: the barnstorming back row is a pivotal figure in the ever impressive Edinburgh scrum and the dynamic back row combinations that Cockerill has cultivated since arriving at the club. Bradbury is a more than confident ball carrier, a destructive tackler in defence and a steady component of the set piece.

From Glasgow Warriors:

Kyle Steyn: another South African, albeit this time in Glasgow colours, Steyn has done nothing but impress upon making the move from 7s to 15-a-side upon signing with the Warriors. Findings his place on the wing for Glasgow side, Steyn has the pace and the ball handling skills from his 7s circuit days to be a dangerous player to release in open space.

Adam Hastings and George Horne duo: certainly the most impressive duo Glasgow could have wished for to take on the mantle from Price and Russell following the latter’s move to Racing 92. The two young academy products have become sure figures in the Glasgow line-ups for the past couple of seasons now. They seem to be remarkably in-tune, and command attention from the attacking line which they rule over. Most impressively is there ability to read a defence and identify a chance. They are very much products of Rennie’s risk-reward style of play – and they have been on both ends of the spectrum plenty of times to know the risks they face and the rewards they can reap.

Scott Cummings: another young academy graduate, this time in the forward pack, this lock has well and truly come into his own in the last few months. Cummings is a second row who seems to have no issues carrying ball into contact, with his galloping long strides. He has also proven to be technically strong at the lineout and a firm defender.

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