As we approach the play-off stage of the 2019-20 season of the Pro 14, Round 15 gets underway with Edinburgh going up against Glasgow Warriors for the second time inside a week.
While Edinburgh emerged convincing winners 30-15 last weekend, nothing is guaranteed on the return visit.
The first quarter was a battle of the boots as Jaco van der Walt and Adam Hastings slotted penalties before textbook handling and running skills saw Warriors’ centre Peter Horne canter over for the first try of the match.
Edinburgh hit back some ten minutes later with a sniping try by scrumhalf Nic Groom before Hastings, with half-time looming, cut through a gap to dive over for a score of 15-13 at the break.
The second half saw Edinburgh blossom, putting the ball over the try line twice and the game out of reach of Warriors.
Edinburgh are well ahead of their rivals on the log, the former currently on 51 points and the latter on 34, however, if Glasgow can maintain good form in the second stanza, they may well spring a surprise upon Edinburgh this weekend.
Edinburgh have made 10 changes to their starting XV as the capital club host Glasgow Warriors. Head Coach Richard Cockerill rotates his squad following last week’s 15-30 win over the Warriors that saw Edinburgh secure a home Guinness PRO14 Semi-Final and lift the 1872 Cup for the third straight season.
Scotland internationalists Darcy Graham and Magnus Bradbury both start after returning from injury, while Simon Berghan and Nick Haining get the nod in the forward pack after featuring from the bench last weekend. Summer signing Nathan Chamberlain makes his first start for the club at stand-off and is partnered at half-back by scrum-half Charlie Shiel – a try-scorer in last Saturday’s derby win.
Loosehead prop Pierre Schoeman and hooker Mike Willemse both come into the front-row, while lock Jamie Hodgson replaces the injured Grant Gilchrist in the second-row. The final alteration to the starting line-up sees James Johnstone selected in midfield, with the outside centre making his 50th appearance for the club.
The inclusion of Graham on the wing is the only alteration to an otherwise unchanged back-three as Blair Kinghorn and Duhan van der Merwe keep their place in the starting XV. Chris Dean - who is named as captain – continues at inside centre and is paired with the aforementioned Johntsone, while Chamberlain, 20, and Shiel, 22, form a youthful half-back combination for the capital side.
An all-new front-row sees Willemse pack down alongside props Schoeman and Berghan, while Hodgson and Haining link-up in the second-row. Fijian international No. 8 Viliame Mata anchors a back-row that sees Bradbury and Hamish Watson named at blindside and openside flanker respectively. Elsewhere, academy scrum-half Roan Frostwick and summer signings Marshall Sykes and Matt Gordon are all named among the replacements and will make their debut for the club if called upon.
Fraser Brown will become the latest player to join the Glasgow Warriors’ Centurions Club this weekend, with the hooker in line to make his 100th appearance for the club. The club co-captain is named in a starting XV showing three changes from last weekend’s meeting with the capital side, as Head Coach Danny Wilson looks to close out the 2019/20 campaign with a victory over Edinburgh.
Brown is once again flanked by Oli Kebble and Zander Fagerson in the front-row, the trio having impressed in the loose as well as the set-piece last weekend. Richie Gray and Scott Cummings continue together in the second-row, following the Scotland pair’s disruptive showing at the lineout last time out.
The only change to the pack sees Tom Gordon promoted from the bench to start at openside, a move that sees Matt Fagerson shift across to number eight and Ryan Wilson named on the blindside. Behind the scrum, George Horne is handed the number nine jersey after coming off the bench last Saturday, with Adam Hastings continuing at fly-half.
Nick Grigg retains his spot at outside centre, whilst Stafford McDowall comes into the side to start in the number 12 shirt. The back-three remains unchanged, as Ratu Tagive and Tommy Seymour start on either side of full-back Huw Jones.
A brace of props are in line to make their Glasgow Warriors debuts from the bench, as Charlie Capps and summer arrival Enrique Pieretto are named in a matchday 23 for the first time. George Turner continues as the replacement hooker, whilst Rob Harley and Chris Fusaro bring the experience of over 400 combined appearances to cover the back-five of the scrum. Ali Price rotates to the bench after starting last weekend, as does try-scorer Pete Horne.
Rounding out the replacements is former Scotland U20 winger Robbie Nairn, who is named in a Glasgow Warriors matchday squad for the first time since the first match of the 2019/20 season away to the Cheetahs.
1. Pierre Schoeman (41)
2. Mike Willemse (19)
3. Simon Berghan (79)
4. Nick Haining (12)
5. Jamie Hodgson (7)
6. Magnus Bradbury (75)
7. Hamish Watson (108)
8. Viliame Mata (72)
9. Charlie Shiel (17)
10. Nathan Chamberlain (1)
11. Duhan van der Merwe (58)
12. Chris Dean (89) CAPTAIN
13. James Johnstone (49)
14. Darcy Graham (30)
15. Blair Kinghorn (88)
Replacements: 16. Stuart McInally (143) 17. Rory Sutherland (82) 18. WP Nel (140) 19. Marshall Sykes* 20. Luke Crosbie (40) 21. Roan Frostwick* 22. Jaco van der Walt (56) 23. Matt Gordon*
1. Oli Kebble (48)
2. Fraser Brown (C) (99)
3. Zander Fagerson (92)
4. Richie Gray (48)
5. Scott Cummings (69)
6. Ryan Wilson (169)
7. Tom Gordon (18)
8. Matt Fagerson (62)
9. George Horne (56)
10. Adam Hastings (43)
11. Ratu Tagive (12)
12. Stafford McDowall (20)
13. Nick Grigg (70)
14. Tommy Seymour (143)
15. Huw Jones (36)
16. George Turner (48)
17. Charlie Capps (0)
18. Enrique Pieretto (0)
19. Rob Harley (231)
20. Chris Fusaro (178)
21. Ali Price (87)
22. Pete Horne (170)
23. Robbie Nairn (9)
Unavailable for selection : Alex Allan, Adam Ashe, Hamish Bain, Mesu Dolokoto, Sam Johnson, Leone Nakarawa, Adam Nicol, Aki Seiuli, Kyle Steyn, Jale Vakaloloma.