Edinburgh v Glasgow Warriors – Talking Points

Last night’s second Scottish derby between two old foes was a disjointed affair which eventually saw the visiting Glasgow Warriors come out on top. The 3-15 final points margin is no true representation of Edinburgh at their best, which they will need to be when they come up against Ulster at BT Murrayfield in the Pro14 semi-final. The match easily produced a handful of talking points…

Shiel was trusted with the starting scrum-half berth, having come off the bench last week. (Photo: Edinburgh Rugby twitter)

Edinburgh’s depth of younger players looks promising

It was a night for Edinburgh’s young prospects to make their presence felt, and they certainly succeeded. The starting half back combination of Charlie Shiel – on his 18th cap – and Nathan Chamberlain – on just his second cap and first start – settled in to their game controlling positions with little nerves.

A faster paced combination than others within the Edinburgh ranks, the two former Scottish Under 20 players complimented one another well. Shiel’s ball provision was sharp and speedy whilst Chamberlain was unafraid of the hard tackles and ever on-hand for the booming clearance kicks.

Jamie Hodgson had a quieter night than his hour long outing in last week’s fixture, however, he still made an impact. A solid figure at the lineout, a harsh ball-carrier and a forceful tackler, his latest two performances will surely have peaked the interest of Richard Cockerill and assistant coaches.

The night also produced a number of debuts in Edinburgh’s ranks. Second-row Marshall Sykes came in to relieve Bill Mata, centre Matt Gordon took over from the night’s captain Chris Dean, and Roan Frostwick ensured the half-backs remained youthful when he replaced Shiel.

All could prove to be interesting Edinburgh players. Sykes is a well-regarded product of the Scottish Academy and Super6 side Ayrshire Bulls – still a relatively raw talent, he signed for Edinburgh during lockdown. Australian back, Gordon, signed from London Scottish and is a direct, powerful ball carrier. Whilst Frostwick, another Scotland Under 20 alumnus, is a fresh scrum-half who will benefit from the wisdom of Henry Pyrgos, Nic Groom and other backs he will be around at Edinburgh.

Glasgow’s season is over, but the rebuild is surely just beginning

The Warriors did secure the win, but it was the final game of their season as the Glasgow outfit fell short of making the Pro14 play-offs. Whilst they stepped-up their performance from last week, it ultimately held no real impact. It is clear to see for fans, analysts, players and coaches alike that one of new head coach Danny Wilson’s first jobs will be to oversee a Glasgow rebuild.

One port of call will be increasing the game-time of the players in their wider squad who provide depth. There are some positives to look to execute to a higher standard in the new season. “We applied some good pressure and dominated set-piece,” Wilson said post-match. “Breakdown was much better, it was a big emphasis going into the game.” He later added, “That coupled with a really good defensive display was pleasing.”

Edinburgh’s young prospects were introduced. Frostwick (L), Gordon (Top R) and Sykes (Bottom R). (Photo: Edinburgh Rugby twitter)

Cockerill is ready for his players to give their all in the Pro14 finals

In a rather humorous twist to their loss, last night’s game will inadvertently have given Edinburgh’s semi-final opponents Ulster very little to go on in regards to analysing the Scottish side’s game plan.

“Glasgow got the result and will be happy but both teams played poorly,” admitted Cockerill, speaking after full-time. “The good thing is that Ulster would have looked at that and got nothing out of it, plus no injuries.”

“It was a pretty average game full stop. We could all have gone home at half-time and wouldn’t have missed anything,” Cockerill, strikingly-truthful as ever, summarised. “We have to look at the bigger picture which is next weekend. We have never been in a semi-final before. We are a game away from a final and having a bash.”

“For us to be champions we have to beat Ulster and then one of Munster and Leinster, which is a big ask but we have come this far, so why not have a crack at it?”

Edinburgh will need to be back to their bolstering, hard-hitting best to face Ulster

Richard Cockerill’s Edinburgh men have fought doggedly, with determination and heart to reach the top echelons of the Pro14 conference tables, and ultimately, secure their semi-final berth. And so, they will need to return to that unrelenting form to push forward and possibly snag a first final appearance. They will have to get through the might of Ulster first though.

“There’s a few bumps and bruises, but that’s to be expected,” Cockerill admitted after the Glasgow encounter. “We have two days off, we will come back Monday and hopefully we will have a bit more about us next Saturday.”

Whilst no celebrations will be in the planning just yet, if Edinburgh name a barnstorming starting XV and leave everything they have on the pitch, every ounce of competitiveness and determination they’ve rejuvenated under Cockerill’s reign, there is a real possibility that the party hats could emerge from the back of a cupboard somewhere in the depths of BT Murrayfield.

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