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Pacy Edinburgh deserve cup berth

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John Beattie | 18:21 UK time, Sunday, 22 January 2012

Well done Edinburgh. What do you think of the way they play?

They are through to the quarter-finals of the Heineken Cup after beating London Irish and they deserve it. Because here's what I think: Edinburgh are coached superbly by Michael Bradley and Tom Smith.

I watch the Edinburgh forwards and if that's from Tom Smith's input then, well, I really, really like what they do.

Edinburgh fly-half Greig Laidlaw celebrates after his side beat London Irish

Laidlaw boosted his Six Nations chances with another fine performance Picture: SNS

Glasgow Warriors are faring better in the league, Edinburgh are lighting up the cup.

I've been in print before saying this: if you were designing a game plan for players and fans to enjoy then it's Edinburgh's. The forwards, among whom Geoff Cross and Natani Talei were outstanding, play a clever mixed up game of very speedy pick and go, one out bash and running off 10.

The backs, with Tim Visser and Lee Jones again full of fire, overload the open side and run in tries.

Everything is carried out at extraordinary pace. I watched last week's game against the Parisians and I was transfixed, and the same goes for this Murrayfield performance.

Ross Ford is throwing his muscle around, Stuart McInally is a bruiser, Roddy Grant a magnificent example of what work rate can do.

If anyone out there wants to look at a fairly simple but effective game plan then just video the way Edinburgh play and have a look at it. That's the key to this success. The micro- and macro-management of Edinburgh's game is spot on.

The beauty of the way Edinburgh attack is that they use short passes to get over the line and then as they tie in defenders they scream the ball wide.

And the Edinburgh defence is secure.

Mike Blair is back to the top of his game and Greig Laidlaw must be vying for top spot in the 10 jersey for Scotland as that pair are the generals in Bradley's army

But what does this all mean? It means that Bradley, who came into the job amid some howls of protest, is following in Andy Robinson's footsteps in getting an Edinburgh team playing with real tempo and conviction.

All those little offloads we see, all those driving rucks and small passes to runners changing the angle come from the direction of Bradley and Smith and I guess the players know that.

What we really need now is for Glasgow to keep their position in the league, and Edinburgh to do something truly remarkable against Toulouse.

Edinburgh restore faith in rugby.

What a prospect. Can Edinburgh beat Toulouse? Well, they've nothing to lose.


  • Comment number 1.

    superb attacking game, you're right John. I think we make up for not have the biggest set of forwards by the way blair and laidlaw slight draw defenders. sometimes looks a bit madcap but never really goes wrong. i still think we lack a bit of substance in the tackel area someitmes- irish made quite a lot of ground through bigs runners like Armitage.

  • Comment number 2.

    Great to see Edinburgh getting a win today, especially the crucial bonus point. Well deserved, however they have shaded their fair share of uber-close games. Two last gasp wins vs Racing Metro being exhibits A & B.

    Not sure why they are so far off the pace in the Rabo. I know they did rest players when it was clear their best chance of success was in the Heineken Cup - but there is no doubt that they have a decent squad and clearly a top game plan.

    Surely they are in with a chance at Murrayfield in the quarters. French sides traditionally don't travel so well and there will be a healthy crowd for the game.

    Quick word on Greig Laidlaw. He really was flawless today. I had thought his chance for Scotland had passed him by, but a switch to fly-half has put him in the picture. Based on current form, he is surely the form 10 in Scotland.

  • Comment number 3.

    Absolutely agree. Bradley has been superb when his appointment looked a backwards step. He's empowered the players and improved fitness levels too - Edinburgh finish games strongly now. Seeing Ford back to his levels of three years ago is great, while Cox was a great signing - just the kind of bite the pack needs.

    I fail to see how the starting half backs against England can not be Blair and Laidlaw. Blair is far more like his old self with Laidlaw as his 10, and the ability to change 9 at breakdowns paid dividends in the final 20 minutes against Irish.

    It would be a tremendous endorsement of Edinburgh's positive offloading game to show continuity and actively seek to end this try scoring drought at international level by going with Blair, Laidlaw, Lee Jones at 14 and Glasgow's Stuart Hogg at 15. We really need to start promoting positivity as first call, not dour durability.

    As for Toulouse, if Gloucester and Harlequins can beat them then yes, Edinburgh can 100% beat Toulouse at Murrayfield.

  • Comment number 4.

    Congratulations Edinburgh, a 10,000+ crowd and a thumping 4 try bonus point win when it was needed!

    Laidlaw at 10 for Scotland would be terrific. Would love to see Gregor as the Scotland 9, he and Laidlaw were brilliant at switching scrum half and first receiver positions in the sevens squad, but bigger names will probably crowd Gregor out.

    Would be interesting to see Scotland take two completely new 10s to the Calcutta Cup, Laidlaw and Weir, as they've had all the rugby since the WC.

    I really think that Scotland have every reason to be confident about beating England at home.

    When do Edinburgh play Toulouse?

  • Comment number 5.

    Was a fantastic display of Rugby and the energy out of the starting blocks was full throttle. To be a long time Edinburgh fan I was proud to see the team show how Scottish rugby can be exciting and a joy to watch. Greig Laidlaw had a cracking game and deserves a place in the starting 6 nations line up. If Edinburgh can stop any loose passes and take the game to Toulouse there is every chance of winning. Then bring on the Mighty Munster at Thomond for a semi final place

  • Comment number 6.

    Brilliant game! Capped the perfect weekend for me! My team for Scotland v England would be:

    1. Jacobson
    2. Ford
    3. Murray
    4. Gray
    5. Hamilton/Kellock (depending on who is angrier)
    6. Brown
    7. Rennie/Grant (whoever wins the coin toss)
    8. Denton
    9. Blair
    10. Laidlaw
    11. S.Lamont
    12. Scott
    13. De Luca
    14. Evans
    15. R. Lamont

    16. McArther
    17. Welsh
    18. Hamilton/Kellock (whoever is less angry)
    19. Barclay
    20. Cusiter
    21. Weir
    22. Joe Ansbro
    23. Hogg

    I included players not in the squad but I believe they should be in it and this team would offer the attacking potential that Edinburgh have shown with the muscle and tenacity of Glasgows pack. If it was as simple as selecting ready made units then Glasgows forwards with Edinburghs backs would be as good a choice as any!

  • Comment number 7.

    Edinburgh were superb today just as they have been throughout the Henieken Cup. Really exciting brand of rugby, scoring lots of tries.

    Although Bradley may not be the most experienced coach what he does so impressively is he installs belief and confidence in his players. You saw it with Connacht and their never say die attitude and their desire to fight relentlessly for the men around them.

    This is what Bradley has done so well with Edinburgh.

    Don't see why Edin cant beat Toulouse. The SRU needs to go BIG with the promotion for this game. Lets get Murrayfield buzzing and help our boys through to the last four. I will be there shouting my head off.

    Also Glasgow keep up the great work in the League.

  • Comment number 8.

    Thumbs up to the Edinburgh squad and coaching staff. There certainly does appear to be feel good factor surrounding the Scots scene at the moment. Lets hope the SRU and all concerned in Scottish rugby continue to built and improve in the near future.

  • Comment number 9.

    well done Edinburgh, great result achieved by playing rugby with a style not seen much in Scotland for over a decade.

    however, for all those calling for Laidlaw to start at 10 vs England i'd have to ask if playing a bit-part 10 against England would be a wise move? the guy has only played 5 or 6 games at 10 for Edinburgh this season. An inexperienced 10 would probably need an experienced 12 outside him and we all know what that means!!!!!!

    Looking forward to making the trip to Murrayfield for the QF and i'm a Weegie!

  • Comment number 10.

    I'll be there if I possiblY can be - when is it?
    Fantastic achievement boys - BRING ON TOULOUSE!!

  • Comment number 11.

    9 - Laidlaw has the best hands of any 10 we have, and an excellent kicking game. Parks, Godman and Weir have a lot of experience at 10 but no experience of making a Scotland team score tries and win (Weir, fair enough, is yet to try!).

    Also, Kelly Brown's broken his leg, so guess McInally will be called up? Hope Denton fit for the Six Nations . . .

    Scot team v England;

    Chunk, Ford, Murray, Gray, Hamilton, Denton (6), McInally (8), Barclay
    Blair, Laidlaw, Ansbro (11), S Lamont (12), Evans (13), Lee Jones (14), Hogg

    Game plan - go for it!

  • Comment number 12.

    VanStoobing - i agree. He has the best hands of any 10 we have and is a very good place kicker, not convinced by his touch finding or tackling though. B

    eing an International coach is about results and i don't think Robinson will risk Laidlaw at 10.

    Team i'd choose is

    Chunk,Ford,Murray,Gray,Hamilton,Strokosch (6),Denton (8),Rennie (7),Cusiter,Laidlaw,Evans (11),Morrison,Ansbro,S Lamont (14), R Lamont

    Subs Cross,S Lawson,Kalman,Harley,Blair,Weir,Hogg

  • Comment number 13.

    great win by edinburgh! shame about k.brown, would have made a fine captain. stroks comes in for him.

    really excited by the possibility of playing a genuine 10/12 at inside centre. quick service from set piece/ruck to a midfield of laidlaw/shingler/ ansbro (all have great hands) to unleash the speed merchants out wide. not sure if irb will rule on regulation 2 before the start of the 6nations, but hope it gets resolved soon. if not, i'd like to see ansbro at 12 - he has an understanding of running lines and a great pair of hands. not sure why people are asking for s.lamont to play 12 - he's been playing wing all season for scarlets, and not even that regularly. i like his aggression and commitment, so it would either be him or lee jones on the other wing

    1 chunk
    2 s.lawson (consistent throwing)
    3 murray
    4 gray
    5 hamilton
    6 strokosch
    7 barclay
    8 denton
    9 r. lawson (c)
    10 laidlaw
    11 evans
    12 shingler/ansbro (if shingler not eligible)
    13 ansbro/s.lamont
    14 s.lamont/jones
    15 r.lamont

    subs: welsh, ford, kellock, rennie, blair/cusiter, weir, hogg

  • Comment number 14.

    #10 Games are the first weekend of April.

  • Comment number 15.

    Edinburgh have prospered in what has been a poor HC group. Are they a good side? The league table probably shows the truth......

  • Comment number 16.


    Yeah was wondering how long till some sad character wasted their time typing their bitter opinion. Sour grapes ?

    Cardiff winning best placed 2nd team on 21 points and a super rich Racing team struggling shows how strong the group was. 17 tries in 6 matches is no mean feat in any H'ken group. Connaught & Treviso upset a few groups as weakest teams.

    Well done Edinburgh, absolutely awesome rugby and when on tune they can score from anywhere. Tough call for back row places.. Talei is a big game player, but Bradely needs to choose between Denton, Rennie, McInally & Grant. All great players !

    Glasgow need to mak the Rabo play offs now too.

  • Comment number 17.

    scottish80 @ #6 - Have you been reading my mind? I've also said a simple Glasgow forwards and Edinburgh backs would be good. A bit simplistic I know, but the essence of it should be there.

    After that performance, Laidlaw has to start at 10 for Scotland. The way he brought runners into the game was amazing. Short passes, drawing defenders etc. My only gripe is that this isn't new, or rocket science - we should have been doing it for years.

    The quick pick and drive is also a very under used weapon. Whenever you see it done it is effective and difficult to defend, but then we stop using it. Why?

    I am worried that AR is going to go on experience at the expense of form and that the team will be very similar to previous outings.

    Also, AR, please note that the winning combinations stayed on the pitch to the end. Only two subs used at 73 mins.

    Now to the Quarter Final.

    As #8 and #9 have alluded - this is big for the SRU and Scottish rugby. All Scottish fans should get behind this. I'll be making the 300 mile round trip for it, going to it instead of the bi-annual Italy game (can't afford to take the whole family to major internationals these days). Let's fill Murrayfield.

  • Comment number 18.

    Congratulations Edinburgh ! Superb performance from a well drilled, motivated team ! As an ex forward I was really impressed with the ball carrying from the forwards ! Talei, McInally and Gilchrist were immense ! Both Gilchrist and McInally must count themselves unlucky not to be in the Scotland squad ! Any news on Kelly Brown's injury ?

  • Comment number 19.

    Great to see Edinburgh win. Perhaps we are seeing some green shoots appearing in the Scottish game after years of barren wastes. I think the big shock in the cup this year is how poorly English sides have done. It is a warning to other nations that relying on foreign imports in your league may not be the best course of action. As for the Scotland team, we are getting better but I would still like to see more options in the front row. In the past couple of years our scrummaging has become very poor. We also need to get young players coming through to the national side more quickly. Only having 2 professional sides limits opportunity. We need more professional teams or a better proving ground for youngsters than can be provided by the current club system.

  • Comment number 20.

    Congratulations Edinburgh :)

    I personally have noticed how well Edinburgh do without fielding Paterson or Godman.
    Don't believe me? Go look at the statistics over the last 12 months.

    All the best Scotland

  • Comment number 21.

    Well done to Edinburgh, Michael Bradly and coaching staff. Shame we will be over for the Sco V Eng game otherwise we would make the trip for the big one in April.Lets hope they get a huge crowd and give Edinburgh the support they deserve.Also great to hear there will be a few Warrior fans there too.

    Just found out about Kelly Brown. That's the most disappointing injury for Scotland so far. Loosing Jackson and Moray Low is bad enough but Kelly Brown is Probable AR's first name on the team sheet. This would be my revamped team to start against England :- 1.Chunk
    12.De Luca/Shingler
    14.Lamont S.
    15.Lamont R.

  • Comment number 22.

    Fantastic performance. Maybe now we will start to get some credit from the biased English, Welsh and Irish rugby media. Saw a re-run of Bradley's interview on Sky last night immediately after the game. The reporter asked him what it was like to now be facing the giants of Toulouse. His reply was to basically say he'll be speaking to his old mates at Connaught about them and that they should actually be fearful of us. Fantastic response and should give Edinburgh fan the fire in their stomach that we can do it. There was a reason they finished on 18 points.

    As for Scotland I for one will be severely annoyed if I turn up at Murrayfield and see Dan Parks starting at 10. Laidlaw should be the first name on the team sheet. He may not have played all season there but he has the confidence, arrogance and most importantly ability to cause England problems. For too long we have gone for the same old same old and it has not worked. Bring some freshness and youthfulness into the team and hopefully it will be rewarded.

    Also no one has mentioned it yet but even though he didn't pay yesterday due to injury, De Luca has to start at 13. Ever since returning from the World Cup he has been outstanding and seems to have taken his game to another level (along with several others at Edinburgh). Crucially his handing has improved immensely and with Laidlaw at 10 could form a creative partnership we have not seen for Scotland in years.

    Team v England (from the actual squad available):

    Chunk, Ford, Cross, Gray, Hamilton, Strokosch, Rennie, Denton, Blair, Laidlaw, Evans, Ansbro, De Luca, Jones, R Lamont.

    Subs: Hall, Murray, Kellock, Barclay, Lawson, Weir, Lamont.

  • Comment number 23.

    #22 Agree about De Luca!

    I have been one to moan about his Scotland performances in the past, but he has been a changed man for Edinburgh.

    We MUST have a creative 10,12 and 13. That means there is no room for Morrison. Only one of this John Beattie Supporters Club has listed Morrison in their team selections. Everyone else has Ansbro/De Luca/Evans/S Lamont/Scott/Shingler.

  • Comment number 24.

    The people picking Rory Lamont to start at 15 can clearly not have seen him play for the last 18 months, or have simply succumbed to the utterly false propaganda that he's a) a fullback b) has any game awareness.

    And for the punters picking Shingler, on what grounds? Nobody has seen him play, and if he is finally ruled eligible for Scotland, he'll only make the A team.

    Re 22 and 23 - De Luca has been outstanding for Edinburgh this season but has never (despite having 30 or so caps) been outstanding for Scotland. What would you expect for him now that he hasn't delivered before? Some players simply cannot make the step up, and Laidlaw at 10 might bring more out of Sean Lamont at 12. Ansbro can't play 12 either.

    Agree though, Morrison should not feature in this team on current form. And neither should Parks.

    Also, people are picking Denton at 8. Why? He has never regularly played 8 for Edinburgh (behind Talei and McInally), so why would he suddenly step up to do so for Scotland? Richie Vernon's travails there are a good example. 8 will be an issue now Brown is out, maybe McInally will get that call up.

  • Comment number 25.

    Nutjob it's to be on the weekend of 6/7/8 April.
    Basically it was a new squad populated by the youngsters while the seniors were away in NZ. Some of the results were not good at the beginning of the season. However since the home Leinster match we've been reasonable, Cardiff and Ulster aside both are q4's. So in relative terms we have not done too badly
    The younger guys are coming on strong, Dave Denton can play 8 and 6 so I wouldn't worry about playing him in either position. However between Netani and Stuart there should be cover at 8. The guy I feel sorry for is Alan Macdonald who is a talent in his own right but there is so much competition across the Edinburgh back row that it's hard for him to get back into the side.
    Mike Blair had his best game of the season yesterday maybe because AR was watching. Right now with the injuries in the halfbacks it has to be Greig at 10. Flip it either way with Mike and Phil, but Greig has to be the main man.
    Best newcomer to the Edinburgh first team is Matt Scott imo. James King has been on good form he just has to get rid of those nigly injuries. 1-15 were excellent and if that helps get JT and John Houston back to full speed then Edinburgh do have a decent squad which at home could turn over the superstars of Toulouse.

  • Comment number 26.

    Well done Michael Bradley. We didn't know who you were at the beginning of the season but we do now.

    If only Glasgow could now get an unknown coach to replace Sean Lineen, because frankly he has had long enough and has won nothing. Fourth in the league at the moment. Big deal. It will slip away and it means nothing! No one will remember this!

    He has been in charge of Glasgow for eight years so far and has achieved zip, other than the odd mugging and grinding out boring boring rugby. No silverware. It's pathetic. He has twelve of Scotland squad, so really fourth in the league is the bare minimum to expect.

    When will SRU, Scottish press and suporters stop celebrating mediocracy and get rid of Sean Linean!

    Michael Bradley, an unknown coach with less international players available to him, has achieved more in eight months than Linean has in eight years!!

    If you think this isn't true. Think about this.

    Scotland's biggest problem if the last 8 years or so have been at 10 and 12. Who played there? Parks, Henderson, Morrison, Jackson. What club are they from? Glasgow. Who was the coach? Lineen. Where did Lineen play as a player? At 12.

    I rest my case.

    He has got to go at the end of this season.

  • Comment number 27.

    Most people on this blog seem to have Rennie starting at 7 for Scotland against England. Have these people watched any rugby this year and actually seen that he has played sparingly for Edinburgh this season and for the Heineken Cup campaign barely featured at all. Yet again though, Robinson has picked this position on past reputation rather than current form. Otherwise Grant and Fusaro would be the two 7's in the squad rather than Barclay and Rennie

  • Comment number 28.

    @27 I definitely agree, think Roddy Grant has done more than enough to deserve a call up to the squad. He was fantastic yesterday, and in every game I've seen him play.

  • Comment number 29.

    No.12 - Ansbro is NOT an inside centre, too light weight and doesnt play there for club - not sure why people keep picking him there. Morrison out of form, S.Lamont did a great job vs England at the world cup.

    Starting team:
    5.Kellock (Faster than hamilton, fits the wide game plan)
    7.Rennie (or Barclay, flip a coin)
    11. Ansbro / Lee
    12. S Lamont
    13. De Luca / Ansbro (De Luca is on form and deserves the chance, Ansbro unlucky)
    14. Lee / Evans (Has Evans been making the grade at Castre this season????)
    15. R Lamont

  • Comment number 30.

    @27 Re Rennie. It may have escaped your notice but MB is being quite smart about squad rotation. All Edinburghs back rowers have been on form. Rennie in Paris last week was outstanding and bettered by Netani Talei who for the second week was MOM yesterday. Right now on form it would be 6 Stroker,7 Rennie, 8 Denton with Barclay and Stuart McInally on the bench. That's probably too little international experience for AR but if he wants to win now he has to take a chance and the back rowers are in form and scoring tries against international players albeit in club form.
    How many tries have Scotland scored lately?

  • Comment number 31.

    @30 - I watch Edinburgh most weeks so your point has not gone unnoticed however I think you should have a look at some stats and see how many minutes Rennie has played since the World Cup. I think you will be very surprised, and to state that is down to squad rotation would be very naive. The Heineken Cup is as close to international rugby as you get and would be at the forefront of Bradley's attention requiring his strongest team. He played 50 mins against London Irish away before getting substituted and the same last week against Racing Metro. The back row for Edinburgh has performed at its best this season when it has been Denton Grant and Talei

  • Comment number 32.

    Have to agree with the Rennie issue. However I picked my team on the available squad. Grant hasn't been selected by Robinson so unless things change over the next two weeks he wont be there.

    @24 I agree that De Luca hasn't done it for Scotland but he has been immense for us since returning from the RWC. He looks like a completely different player and maybe playing with young, confident and talented players at 10 & 12 has given him this new found belief. I certainly would prefer playing beside Laidlaw and Scott or King than Parks and Morrison. If either of them start then I will finally have lost all faith in Robinson.

    As for Lamont at 15 the only other option is Hogg. Whilst he looks like an extremely promising and bright talent, I think he lacks defensive qualities for a starting place in international rugby. He does look fantastic going forward but I would worry about him when we don't have the ball.

    Denton's best position is at 8 but just now I don't think a supermassive black hole could oust Talei from his starting place. Therefore Denton has been playing more at 6. A move to 8 for the England match would not faze him.

    I worry about putting Lamont at 12. He is an experience winger, not a centre. I worry that putting him in at 12 will just make us revert to the typical "give the ball to the big inside centre and see if he can make any yards". I hate teams that do this and Edinburgh have shown that the talent is there to play a different, more attractive and ultimately more successful way.

    Unfortunately I fear we may all be disappointed as AR needs to win at least 2 games and will go for the tried and trusted Parks, Morrison, S Lamont and a boring kicking game with no spark or creativity. This is the one game in years we could really do something against England and put a real marker down in the rugby world. I really hope we don't waste this opportunity!

  • Comment number 33.

    That was quite an afternoon! Had the split screen on for the last 5 - 10 minutes on Sky watching / listening to the Edinburgh and Cardiff matches. The cat got a fright when Lee Jones ran in at the end!

    It was a fantastic finish to a match and for long suffering Scottish rugby followers was amazing to actually "get" there and not snatch defeat at the last minute etc etc. Also can't quite describe the feeling at seeing a Scottish team scoring four tries at Murrayfield .... oh to see the same on Feb the 4th!

    Am half excited / half worried (mainly excited) about the England match as I have no idea which England will show up but would love to see an attacking Scotland backline - Blair and Laidlaw will hopefully 9 & 10. It's maybe a big call to throw Laidlaw in at 10 but the feeling is this is what most Scotland fans want.

    Tries and running rugby : )

    Saying all that - I'll take a 1 point win via a sklaffed drop goal in the 79th minute if need be!

  • Comment number 34.

    #32 donchewanme - Totally agree about Lamont at 12. Him and Morrison are like for like and they can't give a pass to save their lives.

  • Comment number 35.

    13.Sean lamont
    Would prefer shingler as Morrison does not do anything going forward

  • Comment number 36.

    I agree that Laidlaw is a possible risk but as everyone is stating seems to get the back line firing. Parks hasn't offered anything for cardiff in an attacking sense which has been publicly stated in Wales. Same must be said of Weir great kicking game but not offering much else. One risk with Laidlaw at 10 could be his size and defense but with an eye on the England game they are likely to start with Hodgson and Farrell at 10 and 12. Neither really worry teams in a running sense with Farrell never really having a go at teams and seems to grab headlines with his goal kicking.

    Agree with the De Luca comments. Burst onto the scene a few years ago after making Jauzion look silly but seems to have lacked the confidence when it comes to internationals. Hopefully the way he has played this season will continue. I think that he is better at 13 but with no other options at 12 he could be one but would worry that moving further in could limit the space he needs and thrives on. Would be far happier with either him or Ansbro at 12 than Morrison or S.Lamont though.

    Think we will have to stump with R.Lamont at 15. I like Hogg but fear the occasion would get the better of him and better easing him in off the bench maybe.

    Is Weir a possible option at 15? I don't know what is pace is like for attacking or covering?

    The real shame is that we have to wait to June till Visser is eligble. Seems to score tries whenever he gets the ball and would be one player that teams would worry about which we haven't had in a long time.

    1. Jacobsen
    2. Ford
    3. Murray
    4. Gray
    5. Hamilton
    6. Denton
    7. Barclay
    8. Brown (If Fit)
    9. Blair
    10. Laidlaw
    11. Jones
    12. De Luca/Ansbro
    13. Ansbro/De Luca
    14. S.Lamont
    15. R.Lamont

  • Comment number 37.

    #35 Cameronwmillar

    I truly hope that is not the midfield we choose to go with. Two players exactly the same who offer less than 0% creativity and would just be crash ball runners. It would be pointless playing Laidlaw as his skills and talent would be completely wasted with those centres. Also no point playing with the Evans, Jones and Hogg as they would never actually see any of the ball.

  • Comment number 38.

    An excellent result for Edinburgh and the attacking approach they take to each game has really paid off. In the end they would have qualified anyway in 2nd spot as Cardiff managed but the home tie is much preferable to the alternative that was on offer. If the SRU throw their full weight behind this they could get a mammoth crowd in for the Quarter final. This presents a great opportunity to give Scottish rugby a real boost, especially if the nation team can follow suit and have a decent 6 Nations campaign and it could really lift us after the disappointment of the World Cup.

    On another note looking at the national team I think given the injuries and Form Greg Laidlaw is looking more and more likely to be the No. 10 he offers more around the Park at this moment to Weir and if you need to discuss Parks then just look at Cardiff with their attacking backline and how they have NOT been managing to score that many tries this year, something that urks most of the Welsh posters that I have read on the subject.

    12 is a choice between Sean Lamont and Nick De Luca. Morrsion is not going to offer us what we need going forward and is not one of the form centres. Lamont may not be a natural centre but given it's likely to be Hodgson at 10 for England his strong running could be a real bonus for that game. NDL is in form and can play at 12 giving a better distribution option for the rest of the back line. However I would say he should be discounted if Parks is at 10 NDL needs quick service to operate, any slowing of the ball makes him struggle (see the games where he played with Parks and Morrison inside of him)

    Anyway looking forward to the QF in April and will defintely be shouting myself hoarse urging the team on for a chance at making the semis!

  • Comment number 39.

    therollingmaul, a couple of the HC matches I've not seen figures on for the back rowers but since the WC ie matches from the 28th Oct the guys have the following spread. Grant 347 mins/8 matches, McInally 464mins/8matches, Talei 410mins/9matches,Rennie 346mins/6matches, Denton 418mins/6matches. Hardly a great spread on that evidence. Barclay has hardly set the heather alight and Chris Fusaro is just getting into it this season. Roddy and Rosco are the two form guys but we'll need some experience out there and for me at the moment Rosco is the more natural ball getter plus he has something like 11 caps if I'm not mistaken. England are struggling and a natural 7 may well just tip the balance on the first weekend of february. The only games I've missed this season are Racing away and Glasgow away and that was because of work cover over new year. Having had to watch the three opensides play together in previous seasons watching a balanced back row this year has been a relief and a pleasure to watch. MB barring injuries will keep them fresh and Macdonald will get his game time during the 6 nations.

  • Comment number 40.

    It was an absolute pleasure to watch that performance yesterday. Edinburgh played with heart, pace, commitment, patience and intelligence. MB has got to take huge credit for getting the team playing like that, and the crowds are growing which is great news. Attack was swift and direct and always making ground; defence was right in their faces, but patient, not giving away daft pens - that long (>7 min?) spell early in 2nd half ending with turnover ball was inspiring.

    I'd love to see Scotland playing that same way - playing like a club side not a collection of individuals which has isolated attackers and given up ball through lack of support. To play the game that way, though, you have to have players who can play that way - handle ball, pass and run, and keep the heid!

    As for Blair and Laidlaw at 9 & 10, as my name suggests, I'm biased there, but I was so impressed by Greig yesterday, I thought he controlled the game. I also thought that Mike Blair had his best game for a long time, quick, snappy pass, and posing a real attacking threat on occasion. Can't wait to see Tim McVisser in a blue jersey :)

  • Comment number 41.

    Going by form, elligibility and current injuries i'd pick:

    15. Hogg
    14. Jones
    13. De Luca (Much maligned for Scotland but nobody looks good playing outside Parks)
    12. Morrison (Although i did have a wee think about playing Weir at 12, Hope Matt Scott gets called up)
    11. Evans
    10. Laidlaw
    9. Blair (Him and Laidlaw work so well for Edinburgh, they get the backs moving well)

    1. Jacobsen
    2. Ford
    3. Murray
    4. Kellock (close between him and hamilton, but lineout is better)
    5. Gray
    6. Stokorsch (Unless Brown is ok)
    7. Barclay (with Brown out we'd need his experience even if he's not at the top of his game, Roddy Grant on the bench)
    8. Denton

  • Comment number 42.

    Venachar01 im not exactly sure where you have pulled your figures from but they are way off. Since the 28th October Grant has played 80 mins on 7 occasions. By my maths that makes 560 mins. He has also come on for Rennie on 3 occasions throughout that period. That is irrelevant however as my point on this matter is that this position once again has been picked not on form but reputation. I fully agree that Rennie is a quality rugby player but if he was the standout 7 for Scotland he would play week in week out for Edinburgh and have been deemed indispensable for the Heineken fixtures. My fear as a Scotland supporter is that AR is going to do as he did for England and continue to pick players not on form

  • Comment number 43.

    Edinburgh were superb on Sunday, and throughout the HC, in both in defence and attack!

    Laidlaw has been inspirational this season and is a must pick for Scotland at 10. He is a real footballer and having just watched the replay of the LI game it is fascinating to watch him control a game at 10! Absolute class!

    Edinburgh have won games by playing fast rugby - fast aggressive clearing out, a 9 and 10 who have good fast hands and most importantly an inside centre who can run, catch and pass at pace! Both King and Scott have done this very effectively. I had doubts about Houston for Sunday but he seemed to rediscover his game and played 12 role excellently! Morrison and Lamont cannot do this and are why we have failed to score tries at national level! By the time they have caught the ball, run into the nearest defender and recycled the ball the opposition have reset their defence and closed down any gaps out wide! AR has to change the game plan at 12!

    My team would be:

    Chunk - inspirational and scrums lower than any other prop
    Ford - has learnt how to throw the ball
    Murray/Cross - either will put in a shift
    Gray - worth his place for the fear he generates
    Hamilton - a bit of aggression
    Stoker - the enforcer
    Denton - there for his ball carrying
    Rennie - no1 at the breakdown
    Blair - back to his best and excellent partnership with Laidlaw
    Laidlaw - the 'general' and can kick!
    Scott - a wild card choice but a threat
    NDL - fast with a real attacking step
    Jones - acceleration to burn
    Hogg - excellent runner but a bit dodgy defensively
    Evans - would benefit getting fast ball form centres and playing on big murrayfield pitch

    Ok it is a small back line but they can all tackle and have pace to burn. Lets play an Edinburgh style game and attack out wide off quick fast ball!

  • Comment number 44.

    Great performance from Edinburgh, and looking forward to the quarter! Shame that the stand out player in the game won't be donning dark blue though.

    I'm surprised at the number of people thinking of an Ansbro/De Luca centre pairing for Scotland. It's just too lightweight for me. You'd need to get an absolute tackling machine in the back row if you went with them to help them out, and I'm surprised that Strokosch hasn't got a mention yet. He's been playing very well for Gloucester recently.
    It still gives me the fear thinking of Banahan running at De Luca though!

    Also think the criticism of Parks is a bit unwarranted. He had an outstanding game against England in Auckland, how short people's memories are. In fact he fits the game plan we go with them so well I'd be surprised if he didn't start against them.

  • Comment number 45.

    36 Ceeg23 If Laidlaws defence is an issue what about Parkes I could count the number of tackles he's made in the last ten years on the finger of one finger!! As for 12 if Lamont plays there England will score at least two tries due to his panic defence, I've never seen an international player run out of a defensive line so many times.
    Shame AR never had the foresight to play Laidlaw at 10 in the World Cup.

  • Comment number 46.

    45 Reiver7 I completely agree with you regarding Parks the tackles you can count were more luck of getting in their way than actually wrapping his arms and making a tackle.

    44 AlisdairMcDonald You are quite right Parks did have an outstanding game against England at the RWC however a lot of games have been played since then for Cardiff that he hasnt played well in. Also Parks is 34 this year we surely like every other team should be building towards 2015. I think he should be in the squad but dont believe starting him is the way to go forward.

  • Comment number 47.

    @42 therollingmaul, as for the figures well the league ones came from the Rabo12 website for the league matches and the HC ones from the supporters club site and I don't think my addition is that bad yet.
    Love Roddy when he's on form and his work rate is tremendous just think that Rosco will get you more ball at critical times at International level. Just glad I'm not the coach who has to make the call. I'm just glad right now that Edinburgh have one of the best performing backrows in europe.

  • Comment number 48.

    Venachar01 - I'm not going to doubt your addition from those sites but if you looked at the match reports for those fixtures you will see that the numbers I posted above are spot on. Interesting stat as well, Rennie has played 80 mins twice since the world cup against Treviso and a Munster second string. If something doesnt raise question marks over whether you can play consistently for 80 mins at international level that stat is it...

    As an Edinburgh supporter it is fantastic that there is such strength in depth over the back row but I would just like to see Robinson reward those players playing well.

    Graeme Morrison is another fortunate individual. On a blog recently I read that he would make Conrad Smith look bad playing alongside him...very apt.

  • Comment number 49.

    AlisdairMcDonald @ 44 I wouldn't worry about Banahan running at De Luca given he's been dropped to the saxons along with all the other experienced English centres. Currently in their squad they have Farrel, Barritt and one other whose name escapes me for the moment think he's from Northampton but none are the big battering ram types that you would fear.

    If your worrying over defense as well remember England are most likely to open with Charlie Hodgson at 10 who isn't exactly known for his hard hitting in the tackle. Everyone has their weak links, but I would prefer Scotland to try and utilise players that would make the opposition worry about their own defense rather than ours

  • Comment number 50.

    Great game and great blog!
    It is not so long ago that we would not expect to score a single try against a top French or English side. We might win occasionally when they arrived complacent and the weather gods laid on cold, wet, windy day. Now we are one of the top sides for scoring tries and only seem over-matched by the real Juggernaut sides. We also win the tight games.
    Well done to everyone concerned. Mark Dodson seems to have transformed the atmosphere and morale of the players. The seating arrangements at Murrayfield are so much better. Michael Bradley seems to be exceeding expectations - I really like the tactics he employs, the way he has given Laidlaw his head and particularly the way he gets the best out of everyone. We only saw the best of Natanei Talei in brief glimpses before but now week in week out he is one of the best players on the pitch.
    But I do have some worries! That Andy Robinson will not pick Laidlaw at ten (he should not worry about the occasion being too big - the more the pressure the better Laidlaw plays!)and also that he won't pick enough Glasgow boiler-room grunt. John, I would really like your opinion why Glasgow were expected to have and did have the upper in the tight against Edinburgh. Edinburgh has the Sunday Scotland front row. Gray and Kellock are great players but are not renowned for their scrummaging. Cusack and Welsh seemed to me to be the pick of the props in the tight, with Low and Grant not far behind, and then the Edinburgh front row. Glasgow don't seem to get run over by anyone in the tight but Edinburgh frequently do. Can anyone explain?

  • Comment number 51.

    Come on John my boy - let's have your test XXII against England please.
    Next thread?

  • Comment number 52.

    Well Kelly Brown is out of the tournament with his injury so muddies the waters even more for those backrow positions, don't think anyone can be called a 100% cert for any of the 3 jerseys up for grabs.

    Plus Ford is named as captain. Not sure if he's the leader we're looking for but he is a stick on starter every week as long as he's fit and experienced as well. Now just have to hope that AR will keep him on for more than 60 minutes.

  • Comment number 53.

    I'm absolutely delighted with everything that's happening with Edinburgh just now. Even with a rocky start to the season, there's been a great attitude and buzz. I live in Aberdeen, but have made the journey down seven times this season as I've loved some of the rugby that's been on display and want to show my support for the positive approach. My uncle's flying over from Canada for the QF and I really hope that Scottish rugby fans will flock from far and wide to get things roaring at Murrayfield again. I have generally been a fan of Andy Robinson thus far, but fear that there will be a revolution if Blair and Laidlaw (particularly the latter) are not picked for the Calcutta Cup. Regardless of all the good and bad things Parks has done, Laidlaw and Weir are out-performing him in the league and cup respectively. Similarly, Morrison is off form at Glasgow just now. If AR is picking on form then I would hope to see Lee Jones and Stuart Hogg on the team sheet, although Hogg should maybe start from the bench to let him find his consistency. I also agree about De Luca, though he really has to come good this time! I'm not really sure what to do about the 12 question though. Anyway, my thoughts largely reflect what's already been covered.

    I would wait to see what happens injury-wise before naming forwards for the 4th, but my tuppence worth back line would be:

    9. Blair
    10. Laidlaw
    11. S.Lamont
    12. Ansbro (I know he's not a 12, but neither is Lamont... Ansbro would get the ball out faster).
    13. De Luca
    14. Evans
    15. R.Lamont

    Weir, Jones and Hogg on the bench.

    There are not enough big lumps in there for AR (McVisser will add some very potent bulk for next time round) and I don't really know about the good hands versus defensive capabilities at 12, but I'd be happy with this.

  • Comment number 54.

    I'm amazed so many would choose Blair ahead of Cusiter, who comprehensively outplayed Blair when they met in the 1872 Cup games. I'm also surprised to see someone claim de Luca has never played well for Scotland, as he was one of the few positives in the warm-up for the World Cup and played well enough in the tournament itself. He's a far better player than he was last season and richly deserves a start at his chosen position, outside Laidlaw, who must start at 10.

    If Robinson doesn't select Laidlaw at 10, this will be his last 6 Nations as Scotland coach, as we'll only be competing with Italy again.


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