SCRUM Web Columnist ‘The Pen’ looks ahead to the 1872 Scottish Cup second leg and the end of the season:
And now, the end is near, and so we face, the final curtain…
Yes, the end of the season is upon us and what better way to finish the season than by battering the Burghers and give Toony and the boys a fitting send off!
The Leinster result last weekend wasn’t exactly the result the ‘Warrior Nation’ were after and it sealed Glasgow’s failure to make the play-offs for the first time under Gregor’s reign.
No doubt this is a massive disappointment to both him and the plying squad who would’ve hoped to give him a final and a trophy to depart with.
But now attention must turn to taking on an Edinburgh squad who, while buoyed by victory over the Dragons, have been in appalling form this season and secure the return of the 1872 Cup to Glasgow.
If Glasgow’s season has been a disappointment then imagine how the neighbours at the end of the M8 must feel! It’s been a disastrous campaign for Edinburgh as they lurch from one defeat to another and they will be anxious to try and end their season on a high by beating Glasgow, even if they don’t win the cup itself.
So can they do it? On paper at least, no. while Glasgow have misfired at times this season, their problems pale into comparison with Edinburgh. The East Coasters have scored only 44 tries this season compared to Glasgow’s 70 and have won just 5 games in the league.
In almost all positions, Glasgow have the superior players. In the backs, there really isn’t an Edinburgh player I would swap for a Warrior. Now I know this is leaving myself wide open to criticism and ridicule if Edinburgh win but it’s simply my opinion. Would you swap Hogg for Kinghorn or Weir for Russell? Be honest…
In the forward pack, had Edinburgh been able to pick Nel and Dickinson I’d have been a lot more worried but they do have two players that I would love to have. Watson and Hardie are two of the best sevens in the league and I’d happily have either or both at Scotstoun.
I actually wouldn’t be surprised to see both line-up in the back-row on Saturday to neutralise Wilson, Fusaro/Favaro and Ashe. That could be a real key area for Edinburgh and if they can win the battle at the breakdown then they may just give Edinburgh a key foothold into this tie.
On the field of course, it’s a totally different matter. Edinburgh will be on a high after battling back and snatching that last gap victory over the Dragons.
Their game plan is largely built on a big bruising pack of forwards bashing the opposition out of the way and trying to smother the opposition when they have the ball. If they can stop Glasgow getting quick ball to the back line, then they may well have a chance of taking something from the game.
If Hogg, Seymour, Russell etc are in the mood though and Edinburgh don’t stop them, then the travelling support could be in for a very long and painful afternoon.
There is of course the fact that this is essentially a Scotland tour dress rehearsal. Players will be vying for a seat on the plane to Australia and there could be some cracking battles. Hoyland v Hughes to replace Tommy Seymour for example.
Kinghorn has the chance to stake a claim for Hogg’s 15 shirt. Can Grant Gilchrist wrestle a starting lock shirt from one of the Gray brothers? Can Fraser Brown keep his place over Ross Ford? All of these questions can be settled in front of the incumbent Scotland head coach.
If Glasgow play the way they can, on a dry track in front of a packed Scotstoun then I just don’t see any way that Edinburgh can keep up with the Warriors. Edinburgh’s only chance I believe is to suck the life from the Warriors. Starve them of the ball, smother them when they have possession and stop quick ball from the half backs to the back line. Much of that could depend on Hardie and Watson.
One thing is for certain however. Saturday will be the end of an era at Scotstoun and it will be with great disappointment that many players and a number of the coaching staff move on to pastures new.
Saturday is a chance for the fans to thank those leaving and retiring for everything they have done for the club during their time at Scotstoun.
There won’t be many dry eyes in the house when they head up that tunnel for the last time. Let’s hope that they are celebrating a win on their final Warriors appearance.
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