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Preview: Edinburgh v Glasgow

23rd December 2013 13:51

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Roddy Grant Edinburgh Rugby 2012

Centurion: Roddy Grant

Edinburgh boss Alan Solomons has made one change for the 1872 Cup derby against Glasgow Warriors at Murrayfield on Boxing Day.

The cup clash between the sides will host the country's biggest club rugby crowd of the season as the first part of the inter-city double-header kicks off in front of the fans seeking season-long bragging rights.

Silverware and vital Pro12 points are the priority for the nation's top players who run out with the added incentive of promoting themselves into Scotland contention for the 2014 Six Nations.

"This is the oldest rugby derby in the world so we must take cognisance of that rich history and tradition," said Solomons.

"It's a privilege for all the staff and players to be involved in it.

"Most derbies are tight, hotly-contested affairs and I think that this one will be no different.

"There is a lot of emotion involved in these games, but it's a question of ensuring that the emotion is correctly channeled.

"The way to do that is by focusing on the elements on which you have got to deliver.

"When all is said and done, it's game of rugby, and one has got to deliver a good performance to get any form of outcome."

The introduction of loosehead prop Wicus Blaauw as a rotated replacement for Scotland internationalist Alasdair Dickinson is the only change to the side that muscled past Leinster at the same venue last weekend.

The match will be Blaauw's fourth start in 12 appearances this season, the most recent of which came in the club's away win over Gloucester in the Heineken Cup a fortnight ago.

The faith shown in the starting line-up means club stalwart Roddy Grant will lead the team out on his 100th appearance and that second-row Ollie Atkins retains his starting role, despite the return of Izak van der Westhuizen, who starts on the bench.

Former Hawke's Bay captain and number 8 Mike Coman and on-loan fly-half Tony Fenner - both unused replacements against Leinster - are still in line to make their club debuts if called upon from the bench.

Meanwhile, Stuart Hogg will start at outside centre for Glasgow Warriors on Boxing Day.

Hogg will partner Alex Dunbar in a new look midfield for the first leg of the 1872 Cup.

Sean Maitland will start at full-back, with Tommy Seymour keeping his place on the right wing and DTH van der Merwe returning on the opposite side.

Duncan Weir has been named at fly-half, with Chris Cusiter wearing the No. 9 shirt and captaining the side in the absence of Al Kellock.

In the pack Ryan Grant returns at loose-head, with Pat MacArthur and Jon Welsh continuing at hooker and tighthead respectively.

Tim Swinson will combine with Tom Ryder in the engine room and in the back-row Rob Harley returns on the blindside, Tyrone Holmes continues at openside and Ryan Wilson keeps his place at number eight.

"Everyone connected with the club is looking forward to these back-to-back games with Edinburgh," said head coach Gregor Townsend.

"After the disappointment of having our game postponed on Friday night the players are ready to return to action. A bonus of not playing at the weekend is that we've been able to cover a lot in training over the last couple of days.

"We have a lot of respect for Edinburgh - and they have secured some great results in recent weeks. They have quality players throughout their team and a game plan that they execute well. It should be a cracking match."

Form: Edinburgh Rugby's only defeat in their last five RaboDirect PRO12 encounters was 17-41 against Ulster at Ravenhill in round 8. Edinburgh have lost just once at Murrayfield in the tournament this season: 9-22 to the Scarlets on 27th September, they defeated reigning champions Leinster last time out. Glasgow Warriors' fixture with Benetton Treviso succumbed to the weather in Glasgow last Friday evening. Amazingly Warriors' last six encounters in the PRO12 have all been won by the away team on the day. Glasgow have a 100 per cent winning record on the road in the PRO12 this season with their five successive wins being a new club record away from home. The only time that Edinburgh have won an 1872 Cup game in their last nine encounters with Glasgow since 2008 was their 28-17 victory at Murrayfield on 2nd January 2011.

The teams:

Edinburgh: 15 Jack Cuthbert, 14 Dougie Fife, 13 Nick De Luca, 12 Ben Atiga, 11 Tom Brown, 10 Greig Tonks, 9 Greig Laidlaw (c), 8 Dave Denton, 7 Roddy Grant, 6 Cornell du Preez, 5 Ollie Atkins, 4 Grant Gilchrist, 3 WP Nel, 2 Ross Ford, 1 Wicus Blaauw.
Replacements: 16 Aleki Lutui, 17 Alex Allan, 18 Geoff Cross, 19 Izak van der Westhuizen, 2 Mike Coman, 21 Grayson Hart, 22 Tony Fenner, 23 Sam Beard.

Glasgow Warriors: 15 Sean Maitland, 14 Tommy Seymour, 13 Stuart Hogg, 12 Alex Dunbar, 11 DTH van der Merwe, 10 Duncan Weir, 9 Chris Cusiter (c), 8 Ryan Wilson, 7 Tyrone Holmes, 6 Robert Harley, 5 Tom Ryder, 4 Tim Swinson, 3 Jon Welsh, 2 Pat MacArthur, 1 Ryan Grant
Replacements: 16 Dougie Hall, 17 Gordon Reid, 18 Moray Low, 19 Leone Nakarawa, 20 Josh Strauss, 21 Chris Fusaro, 22 Henry Pyrgos, 23 Ruaridh Jackson

Date: Thursday, December 26
Kick-off: 15:05 GMT
Venue: Murrayfield
Referee: Neil Paterson (SRU, 57th competition game)
Assistant Referees: David Changleng, Bob Nevins (both SRU)
Citing Commissioner: John Cole (SRU)
TMO: Jim Yuille (SRU)

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