RaboDirect Pro12: Laidlaw and Kellock recalled for Scottish derby
RaboDirect Pro12: Edinburgh captain Greig Laidlaw and Glasgow skipper Al Kellock will be recalled for Scottish derby
Edinburgh captain Greig Laidlaw and Glasgow Warriors captain Al Kellock have both been recalled for the second leg of the 1872 Cup on Saturday.
With all eyes on the semi-finals of the European competitions, the Scottish derby is the only RaboDirect Pro12 clash this weekend with the original fixtures on New Year’s Day postponed because of a waterlogged pitch.
Edinburgh head coach Alan Solomons has made five changes to the side that lost 26-13 at bottom side Zebre last week, four of which come in the pack, as well as Laidlaw who returns from six weeks off to replace Sean Kennedy at scrum-half.
He will add a lot of value to the team with his experience and leadership
Scotland loosehead Al Dickinson comes in for Wicus Blaauw, who drops to the bench, to partner international front row hooker Ross Ford and tighthead prop WP Nel, who both keep their places.
In the second row, Grant Gilchrist and Izak van der Westhuizen come in for Ben Toolis and Ollie Atkins, with Toolis dropped to the bench.
Mike Coman continues on the blindside, but gives back the captaincy to Laidlaw, with Cornell du Preez coming in on the openside for Roddy Grant and Dave Denton continuing at number 8.
The South African imports continue to thread their way through the Edinburgh backline as Solomons retains Carl Bezuidenhout at outside-half and Andries Strauss continuing to partner in-form Scotland international Matt Scott at centre.
Scottish youngster Jack Cuthbert continues at full-back with Tom Brown on the right wing and the ‘Flying Dutchman’ Tim Visser keeping his place on the left wing.
“I think this is a fantastic way for Greig to finish his time with Edinburgh Rugby,” Solomons said.
“First to lead the side against Glasgow in this derby match, then again against Munster in our last home game of the season and then away against a top European side like Leinster.
“He will add a lot of value to the team with his experience and leadership and, while your first game back is always tough, he has a good temperament, is a good player, and is the kind of individual that will give a good account of himself.”
The Warriors, who have again peaked at the end of the season and won five in a row since a narrow 28-25 defeat to league leaders Leinster in Dublin at the beginning of March, make four changes and two positional switches from their 27-9 win over Ulster last Friday.
Kellock replaces the ill Tim Swinson in the second row and partners Jonny Gray. Former Edinburgh loosehead Ryan Grant is the only change in the front row as he replaces Gordon Reid and partners hooker Dougie Hall—another former Edinburgh player—and Jon Welsh.
In the back row, Rob Harley replaces Ryan Wilson, who drops to the bench, and will start on the blindside so Josh Strauss switches to number eight.
Ruaridh Jackson, who yesterday agreed a switch to Aviva Premiership club London Wasps [Link to yesterday’s article], is promoted from the bench to outside-half and will partner Sale Sharks-bound scrum-half Chris Cusiter.
After impressing at 10 and 12 in recent outings, Finn Russell switches back to inside centre with Peter Horne out with a knee problem and partners Mark Bennett, who continues to make a case for a senior Scotland call-up after a man of the match performance against Ulster.
Gregor Townsend has named an unchanged back three with Peter Murchie continuing at full-back and Sean Maitland and Tommy Seymour on the wings.
A win over their rivals on Saturday—their final game in hand over the rest of the top six—would see Townsend’s side jump into second place above Munster and Ulster with two rounds remaining.
Once top six contenders, Edinburgh have struggled recently, with last Saturday’s defeat to Zebre in Parma coming on the back of defeats to Cardiff Blues and Treviso and Solomons’ side have won just once on the road in the Pro12 all season, a 23-19 win over Newport Gwent Dragons at Rodney Parade on 3 April—their last win in five matches.
The 1872 Cup has been firmly housed in the west of Scotland of late, with Edinburgh beaten in their last four matches against the Warriors, including December’s 20-16 win at Murrayfield, and are firm favourites to keep the trophy at Scotstoun in front of what is expected to be a record crowd for a match in Glasgow.
Glasgow Warriors: Peter Murchie; Sean Maitland, Mark Bennett, Finn Russell, Tommy Seymour; Ruaridh Jackson, Chris Cusiter; Ryan Grant, Dougie Hall, Jon Welsh, Jonny Gray, Al Kellock (captain), Rob Harley, Chris Fusaro, Josh Strauss.
Replacements: Pat MacArthur, Jerry Yanuyanutawa, Moray Low, Leone Nakawara, Ryan Wilson, Niko Matawalu, Duncan Weir, Richie Vernon.
Edinburgh: Jack Cuthbert; Tom Brown, Matt Scott, Andries Strauss, Tim Visser; Carl Bezuidenhout, Greig Laidlaw (captain); Al Dickinson, Ross Ford, WP Nel, Grant Gilchrist, Izak van der Westhuizen, Mike Coman, Cornell du Preez, Dave Denton.
Replacements: James Hilterbrand, Wicus Blaauw, Simon Berghan, Ben Toolis, Tomas Leonardi, Grayson Hart, Piers Francis, Sam Beard.
Referee: Mathieu Raynal (FFR)