This weekend sees further action in the RaboDirect Pro12 as this season’s competition enters the twelfth round of matches in the league stage. Most of the games will be completed during the weekend but one of the matches, Scarlets versus Ospreys, is scheduled for the afternoon of Monday afternoon.
The attention in Scotland in particular will, for the second week in a row, be centred on the derby match between Edinburgh and Glasgow Warriors. This match will take place at Murrayfield on Saturday, kick off due 18.05 South African Time.
Saturday’s match will also double up as the second of the two fixtures to decide the winner of the 1872 Cup. Glasgow lived up to their favourites tag by winning at their home ground, Scotstoun Stadium, last weekend. Last weekend’s result means that Edinburgh will have to win the game by ten points to win the 1872 Cup back from current holders Glasgow Warriors who in turn would like to win the cup for the fourth season in a row.
Edinburgh Team Announcement
Head coach Michael Bradley today named the Edinburgh Rugby team charged with producing the ten-point win needed to lift the 1872 Cup at Murrayfield this Saturday (kick-off 4.05pm) – live on BBC ALBA.
The Warriors placed one hand on the intercity trophy (decided by the aggregate score from the two festive derbies at opposite ends of the M8) with a 23-14 victory at Scotstoun last weekend, earning them a nine-point cushion with which to retain the trophy.
Setting aside the fight for silverware, RaboDirect PRO12 points are paramount for the hosts as they seek to atone for the defeat and progress up the table before the push for play-off places intensifies in the New Year.
With a win the ‘need’, and a ten-point win the ‘want’, there are few who would doubt a blazing start is required from the home side.
Head coach Michael Bradley said: “This a hugely important game for us, with PRO12 points, intercity rivalry and, of course, the 1872 Cup all wrapped up in the deciding derby clash between the two clubs.
“We need a good start, we need to get the tempo up and keep it there, move the ball, move our opponents, create space and punish any vacancies.
“The challenge will be to do that against one of the most shrewd and stingy defences in the division, and one which has added an extra level of attacking nous to their armoury, which we saw in full flow last weekend, in part thanks to a number of defensive lapses on our part.”
Five of the six changes made have been promoted from the bench from last weekend’s loss, four of which are enforced through injury.
The introduction of 22-year-old wing Dougie Fife for the injured Lee Jones (ribs) is the only alteration to the back-line, which will once again feature half-backs Greig Laidlaw and last weekend’s try-scorer Piers Francis, a midfield partnership of James King and Matt Scott, as well as Greig Tonks and Tim Visser in the back three.
Visser is second only to Ulsterman Tommy Bowe in the league’s all-time top try-scoring charts, and would undoubtedly welcome the opportunity to celebrate the landmark at the expense of the club’s biggest rivals.
The remaining five alterations have been made to a new look pack.
Allan Jacobsen, who was originally named to start in Scotstoun but withdrawn due to illness on the day, will start as one third of an all-new front-row as he, Andy Titterrell and Geoff Cross replace the injured John Yapp (knee), Ross Ford (shoulder) and Willem Nel, who will start on the bench if fit.
The ankle injury sustained by lock Izak van der Westhuizen sees him replaced by vice-captain Sean Cox, who reforms a familiar partnership with Grant Gilchrist in the second-row.
Fiji captain Netani Talei [pictured] is the last alteration to the team. He replaces Stuart McInally at number 8 to join Roddy Grant and David Denton in the back-row.
Bradley added: “Needless to say that a match up between the nation’s two professional clubs, which are packed with the country’s leading international players, carries a lot of significance to Scottish fans.
“You can feel and feed off the passion for this derby coming through all the players from whom we require a much more cohesive performance as we aim to first establish and protect a lead, and second to target the ten-point cushion needed to secure the 1872 Cup.
“Derbies are special occasions and all of our supporters, players and management are very much on song in terms of believing that it’s about time we won this cup.
“It will be another ferocious contest and the support of our home fans will be vital to our efforts, as we go all out from start to finish.
“The fans will play a huge part on Saturday. With 140 years of history, there’s a lot at stake and we need their vocal support to get across the line.”
The vacated places on the bench are taken by returning hooker Steven Lawrie, who makes his appearance in an Edinburgh squad since December 2011, Robin Hislop (prop) Lewis Niven/Willem Nel (prop), Perry Parker (lock), Dimitri Basilaia (back-row), and Sep Visser (wing).
Edinburgh: 15 Greig Tonks, 14 Dougie Fife, 13 Matt Scott, 12 James King, 11 Tim Visser, 10 Piers Francis, 9 Greig Laidlaw (Captain), 8 Netani Talei, 7 Roddy Grant, 6 David Denton, 5 Sean Cox, 4 Grant Gilchrist, 3 Geoff Cross, 2 Andy Titterrell, 1 Allan Jacobsen
Replacements: 16 Steven Lawrie, 17 Robin Hislop, 18 Lewis Niven/Willem Nel, 19 Perry Parker, 20 Dimitri Basilaia, 21 Richie Rees, 22 Ben Atiga, 23 Sep Visser
Glasgow Warriors Team Announcement
Glasgow Warriors have made five changes from last week’s starting line up as they travel to Murrayfield seeking a fourth successive 1872 Cup win against Edinburgh Rugby (Saturday 29 December, kick-off 4.05pm).
The Warriors take a nine-point advantage into the tie, with the silverware being decided on the total aggregate points. Gregor Townsend’s side took PRO12 points and the upper hand in the 1872 with a 23-14 victory at Scotstoun Stadium last Friday night.
In the backs, Stuart Hogg returns to the starting line-up in the full back berth, while Henry Pyrgos is preferred to Niko Matawalu at scrum-half.
DTH van der Merwe, who scored twice against Edinburgh last week, keeps his place alongside the rest of a potent attacking back-line.
The bulk of the changes have been made up front, with Josh Strauss set to enjoy his first outing in the famous encounter. The South African, who signed up for the Warriors in the summer, replaces Chris Fusaro in the back row, who has not recovered from a groin injury picked up during the first leg.
Tom Ryder comes in for Tim Swinson in the second-row with Scotland hooker Dougie Hall starting in place of Pat MacArthur.
Shade Munro, Warriors forwards coach, said: “We saw how physical the battle was last week and we need to be ready for Edinburgh to bring an even greater level of physicality.
“They have a very good and experienced pack and they will want to get on the front foot. They have a huge amount of talent across the back line and if they get good ball, they can hurt us.
“Last week our defence was very good for long spells of the game and we competed very well at the breakdown but we saw, particularly at the start of the second half the threat they pose.”
Last week’s victory at Scotstoun propelled Glasgow Warriors back into the play-off places in the RaboDirect PRO12 with Leinster and Ospreys snapping at their heels and Munster within touching distance.
In the PRO12, the Warriors have won three of their last four matches on the road and are looking to again pick up vital league points at the home of their city rivals.
Glasgow Warriors team to play Edinburgh Rugby in the RaboDirect PRO12, Murrayfield Stadium (Saturday, 29 December, kick-off 4.05pm.)
Glasgow: 15 Stuart Hogg, 14 Sean Maitland, 13 Sean Lamont, 12 Peter Horne, 11 DTH van der Merwe, 10 Ruaridh Jackson, 9 Henry Pyrgos, 8 Ryan Wilson, 7 Rob Harley, 6 Josh Strauss, 5 Al Kellock (Captain), 4 Tom Ryder, 3 Moray Low, 2 Dougie Hall, 1 Ryan Grant
Replacements: 16 Pat MacArthur, 17 Gordon Reid, 18 German Araoz, 19 Tim Swinson, 20 James Eddie, 21 Niko Matawalu, 22 Duncan Weir, 23 Graeme Morrison