Edinburgh Looking for Revenge in Heineken Cup

visser

© SNS Scotland

French side Racing Metro visit Murrayfield tomorrow night as Edinburgh look to avenge last week’s defeat in the Heineken Cup.

Edinburgh have made eight changes to the side that lost in France.

Scottish centre Ben Cairns returns after long-term injury. As Edinburgh’s all-time top try scorer in the competition, he is a welcome addition to a team struggling for points.

Cairns is joined in the back line by New Zealand centre Ben Atiga, whilst Piers Francis and Chris Leck form a new half-back combination. Lee Jones and Dougie Fife have been brought in to replace injured wingers Tom Brown and Tim Visser.

Robert McAlpine replaces Sean Cox in the pack, joining forces with his former Scotland age-grade colleague, Grant Gilchrist, in the second-row.

Edinburgh coach Michael Bradley could not explain how his side lost 19-9 at Racing Metro last week, slumping to their third defeat in the competition.

Following last season’s surprise surge into semi-finals, Edinburgh have failed to win qualification from the group stages.

Tomorrow’s game offers the team an opportunity for an improved performance ahead of their Pro12 double header against Glasgow Warriors.

We spoke to Scotland Centre Matt Scott and Edinburgh Second Row Robert McAlpine ahead of the clash.

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Matt Scott © Edinburgh Rugby 2012

mcalpine12

Rob McAlpine © Edinburgh Rugby 2012

What was the feeling amongst the squad after last Saturday’s defeat to Racing Metro?

Matt Scott – It was a feeling of great disappointment and frustration as we felt we played good enough rugby to win the game. Rugby games at this level are won by small margins, and unfortunately we didn’t get the majority of these small margins right.

Rob McAlpine – Everyone was pretty gutted after the defeat in Paris, the game was for the taking. We provided enough scoring opportunities to win the game, but didn’t manage to convert those opportunities into points. It was disappointing.

Is the pressure now off for tomorrow’s game with qualification looking unlikely, or are players still feeling the stress of the situation?

MS – I don’t think the pressure is ever really off when playing professional rugby. There has been quite a few changes for this game, and the new players that have come in will be looking to stamp down a marker for selection in the upcoming games.

RM – No, there is no pressure off at all. We are desperate to put in a performance against Racing Metro at home, and we owe it to our fans and supporters to get a result. Having the home advantage is a great help and we should hopefully get a result.

What has training been like this week, have you been working on anything in particular?

MS – Training has been tough as everyone is keen to get a win on the board in the Heineken cup. We have targeted a few areas that Racing are weak in, so the boys will be looking to exploit those.

RM – Training has been really good this week, especially with players stepping in and playing that have been out injured. Netani Talei (Fiji), Ben Atiga (All Blacks), Ben Cairns (Scotland), and Dimitri Basilaia (Georgia) all step in after time out injured.

What have the coaches been saying ahead of tomorrow’s game?

MS – They have been willing us to get a win in front of our own fans, particularly to gain some momentum going into the two Glasgow games, which are going to be really important in our season.

RM – .. Can’t answer too much about strategy..

Personally what do you think can be done tomorrow to get a result?

MS – I think if we get our set piece delivery better and hold on to the ball we will cause them all sorts of problems. They are a huge side and don’t like being moved around. Murrayfield is a particularly large pitch, so I’m sure you will see us using that on Friday.

RM – Racing Metro have a big forward pack and being able to move the point of contact and play a quick game we should expose weaknesses and create opportunities to score.

Finally, if you get a result tomorrow what kind of confidence would that give the team going forward?

MS – It would be great for momentum to get a win, especially against a team of racing’s calibre.

RM - The win would give us massive confidence going into the 1872 cup (Glasgow Edinburgh back to back matches) and will hopefully allow us to pick up where we left off in the Rabo Pro 12. Two wins from two against Glasgow would put us right back up in the mix in the table.

Edinburgh team look ahead to crucial matches

Murrayfield Stadium


By: Pamela Paterson

Edinburgh Rugby Team hope to reverse their poor run of results as they take on Welsh side Scarlets tonight. Nine international players have returned to the squad after taking part in Scotland’s winless Six Nations campaign, while several players have had their contracts extended for another two seasons.

Coach Michael Bradley stated, “We would love to win the match on Friday night because I think we need it for our sanity at this stage.”

Ross Rennie, who this week announced a contract extension, said, “Everyone is desperate for a win.”

Speaking about the team’s recent poor results, Bradley said, “We’ve had a bad run in the Pro12. We do need to stop the run we’re on and it’s a good opportunity for us to do that at home. That is our priority.”

If the team win their remaining matches they can finish ninth in the league. For the players, it is now time to look ahead to building up momentum for next season. Centre Nick De Luca, who also extended his contract with Edinburgh Rugby this week, said, “Even if we win all our games we’re still not getting a good finish, let’s be honest. It’s more important for going forward into the next season.”

Bradley was also keen to stress the importance of the return of the international players, who started training earlier this week, saying, “They are a big part of Edinburgh Rugby. It’s been great to have them back.”

Rennie believes that their return has bolstered the team prior to both their coming matches. He said, “I think we’ve obviously had a tough time in the league as we did in the Six Nations. I think us coming back together has brought a new bit of life to the people who were here and a bit of life to the guys who were away. I think everyone is just looking forward to building towards something really special.”

Head coach Michael Bradley believes that Scarlets will bring a strong side, as along with Edinburgh, they will be selecting “with a view to fine tuning for the following week,” when both sides are taking part in separate Heineken Cup quarter finals. Speaking about the clash against Toulouse, he said, “It is a one-off event, a separate entity.”

Dumfries-born De Luca believes that the performance of the team in the Scarlets match is key to preparing for next week’s game. He said, “We need a huge performance this weekend to get things very right, or close to perfect.”

De Luca also spoke about the Scotland team’s fortunes in the Six Nations, including the yellow cards he received in both the Wales and Italy matches. He said, “I felt myself that I was under a lot of pressure, I just have to look at my own discipline and why I’m putting myself in those situations. The one in Wales I panicked and just had a moment of madness.”

Along with De Luca and Rennie, Irish coach Michael Bradley has re-signed the services of 17 other players for the following two seasons, as well as gaining new players, WP Nel, Greig Tonks and Ulises Gamboa. There are several other new signings which have yet to be announced.

These new unknown signings were a major factor for both De Luca and Rennie when they decided to extend their contracts. De Luca said that while he looked elsewhere he knew that remaining in Edinburgh was the decision he wanted. Rennie, meanwhile, was keen to stay at the club where he began his professional rugby career. He said, “I’m very happy to be offered something here and very happy to stay. I think with the new signings coming in a lot is going to change. I think it’s going to be an ambitious club next year.”

 

Edinburgh Rugby Team to play Scarlets at Murrayfield Stadium 30 March (KO 7.35pm):

Tom Brown, Lee Jones, Nick De Luca, Matt Scott, Tim Visser, Greig Laidlaw (c), Mike Blair, Allan Jacobsen, Ross Ford, Geoff Cross, Grant Gilchrist, Sean Cox, David Denton, Ross Rennie, Stuart McInally.

Replacements: Andrew Kelly, Kyle Traynor, Jack Gilding, Esteban Lozada, Roddy Grant, Chris Leck, Phil Godman, Jim Thompson.

Weekend Sports Preview

With a busy weekend of sport ahead, Ross Hart takes a look at the upcoming action.

Football:

Weather permitting, there is a full card of league fixtures this weekend and a Scottish Cup tie this evening.

Tonight, Inverurie Locos and Vale of Leithen will attempt for the fouth time to play their third round Scottish Cup tie after adverse weather conditions resulted in three postponements. The winners will be rewarded with a home tie against SPL side Motherwell in the fourth round.

In the Scottish Premier League this weekend, Rangers travel to in form Dundee United in the early kick off on Saturday. United have only lost once in their last 14 league and cup games and sit third in the table, while Rangers will look to put more pressure on leaders Celtic after defeating Hamilton 7-1 last weekend.

Celtic meanwhile are looking to recover from last weekend’s loss to Hibernian by defeating the other half of Edinburgh at Celtic Park. Last night’s Champions League victory over Villarreal provided a confidence boost but Hearts have won five successive matches to maintain their push for European football next season.

Hibernian will look to build on their victory over the leaders last week by defeating struggling Hamilton at Easter Road. The visitors sit bottom of the table after recording only one win in their last 12 league matches but are boosted by striker Richard Offiong signing a contract extension.

In the other SPL games, Aberdeen will look to maintain their position within the top six at home to Falkirk, while St Mirren will climb above Inverness with victory at Love Street. Motherwell host Kilmarnock on Monday evening in a game to be broadcast live on Setanta Sports.

In the First Division, Dunfermline Athletic, who sit second in the table, look to keep up their push for promotion as they travel to play Queen of the South in Dumfries while Livingston will be looking to earn a first victory for new boss Paul Hegarty as they travel north to take on Ross County.

Rugby:

The Edinburgh Gunners are again in action this weekend as they travel south to play London Wasps in a Heineken Cup pool two clash. The sides met at Murrayfield last weekend with the Gunners falling to a 25-16 defeat so Andy Robinson will be hoping his team can gain revenge on former Scotland coach Ian McGeechan’s team on Sunday afternoon.

Scotland’s other European representatives Glasgow Warriors take on Bath at Firhill on Sunday and will also be looking to avenge defeat by their English counterparts. Sean Lineen’s team narrowly lost out last weekend by 35 points to 31 at the Recreation Ground.

Snooker:

Ronnie O’Sullivan is looking to defend his Maplin UK Championship title as this year’s tournament gets underway on Saturday in Telford. Current World Champion O’Sullivan kicks off the defence of the UK Championship against Rory McLeod on the opening day of the tournament.

There is plenty of Scottish representation, with five players flying the saltire. Five time UK Champion Stephen Hendry takes on England’s Stephen Lee while the ‘Wishaw Wizard’ and current Grand Prix champion John Higgins faces world number 20 Joe Swail.

Former World Champion Graeme Dott faces Ireland’s Ken Doherty while the clash between world number two Stephen MaGuire and Jamie Burnett, ranked 43 places below, guarantees a Scottish name in the second round.

Weekend Sport Preview

Graeme Macleod previews this weekend’s sports action.

Rugby:

Heineken Cup Pool Two

Edinburgh Gunners vs. London Wasps

The Gunners welcome Guiness Premiership champions Wasps to Murrayfield for this Heineken Cup clash on Friday. Edinburgh coach Andy Robinson is set to make one change to the team that defeated Ospreys last week. That means full-back Chris Paterson is set to make his 50th european appearance for the hosts as they look to repeat their 2005 win over Wasps.

The visitors are two-time winners of the competition with their last success coming as recently as 2007. This will be Wasps first match since a boardroom reshuffle – which saw World Cup winner Lawrence Dallaglio appointed a director of the club – earlier this week.

Football:

Scottish Premier League

Falkirk are looking to bounce back from conceding a late equaliser against Hibernian last week when they host St Mirren.

Inverness CT welcome Dundee United to the Caledonian Stadium while Kilmarnock host Aberdeen at Rugby Park.

Motherwell were dumped 2-0 at Pittodrie last week and will be looking to get back to winning ways when they host in-form Hearts at Fir Park. The Jambos picked up a superb three points last week thanks to a 2-1 win over Rangers at Tynecastle. That means Csaba Laszlo’s side have won five games in a row, lifting them up to third spot in the SPL table.

Rangers take on Hamilton to Ibrox looking to bounce back from that defeat. Walter Smith is likely to have Kenny Miller, Sasa Papac and Steven Davis back in the squad.

In Sunday’s match, Hibernian entertain Celtic at Easter Road. Mixu Paatelainen’s men salvaged a draw at Falkirk last week thanks to sub Colin Nish’s late strike and the towering forward is likely to be vying for a start when the champions visit. Celtic on the other hand are looking to rack up their 13th consecutive league win before Wednesday’s Champions League match agains Villarreal.

Scottish Cup

In the re-arranged third round fixtures, Edinburgh City host Brechin City at Meadowbank Stadium while Spartans travel north to play Elgin City. Forfar Athletic take on Stranraer and the all non-league matches see Forres Mechanics face Dalbeattie Star and Inverurie Locos host Vale of Leithen, with the winners in that match set to be take on Premier League Motherwell at home in the next round. Junior outfit Lochee United host Second Division Ayr United with the winners meeting Kilmarnock in Round Four.

Boxing:

Amir Khan vs. Oisin Fagan

Bolton fighter Khan returns to the ring for the first time since his 54-second knockout at the hands of Breidis Prescott. The Olympic silver medalist is looking to rebuild his career following that defeat, the first of his professional career. The 21-year-old boast a record of 18-0-1 and will have to win this one to keep his hopes of a world title fight alive.

Opponent Fagan turned professional in 2003. The Irishman goes into this fight in London with a record that reads 22-0-5. The ‘Gael Force’ last fought in March against Paul Spadafora when he lost in a split decision after 10 rounds.

Oscar De La Hoya vs. Manny Pacquiao

After Khan vs. Fagan, attention turns to Las Vegas where Oscar De La Hoya takes on Manny Pacquiao. This fight sees two of the best pound-for-pound fighters going head-to-head with the winner likely to be rewarded with a multi-million pound match with Ricky Hatton next year.

De La Hoya’s record reads 40-0-4 and his last appearance in the ring was a win over Steve Forbes in May. Pacquiao comes into the fight with a record of 47 wins, two draws and three losses. This clash with the ‘Golden Boy’ presents probably the biggest challenge of the Filipino’s career.

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