Scottish top two face off
December 22, 2009
Chris Paterson and co. will be sporting this colourful outfit at Firhill on Sunday © PA Photos
Glasgow host Edinburgh in the first of two derbies in seven days as the Magners League's top two go head to head at Firhill on Sunday.
The derby is the longest running existing fixture in club rugby and after it's inaugural season in 2008-09, the clubs will once again contest the 1872 Cup to mark that piece of history. Edinburgh won the trophy last season thanks to their big win at Murrayfield, and Glasgow will look to take a lead to the capital after Sunday's battle.
After their showdown with Bath in the snow at the weekend, perhaps it's just as well that Edinburgh are to sport an eye-catchingly bright new shirt for the occasion that will test Scottish title ambitions.
Both sides won at home and lost away in similar circumstances in the Heineken Cup last weekend, and neither can be confident of European progression. Edinburgh adapted to the blizzard to beat Bath at Murrayfield, while a week on from beating them at Firhill Glasgow couldn't match Gloucester in the second half of their clash.
Even with the European prospects looking grim it's been an encouraging domestic campaign so far from the clubs and they'd be loathe to undo that good work by losing to their local rivals. Both sides are locked on 23 points at the top of the table, a point clear of Leinster, but with four points seperating first and seventh it's tight at the top.
Both games went the way of the home sides last season and it's difficult to see it being any different this time around. Back to back wins for either team would put them in pole position for a top four position going into 2009.
As for the team news, Glasgow boss Sean Lineen has made just one change to the side beaten at Kingsholm, with Thom Evans, who has recovered from a knee injury, returning on the left wing. That sees DTH van der Merwe switch to the right and Dave McCall drop out.
Edinburgh, meanwhile, make three changes to the side which overcame Bath at Murrayfield last weekend. Scott MacLeod returns to the second row after recovering from a minor back problem and he will be joined in the front five by Allan Jacobsen, who returns at loose-head at the expense of Kyle Traynor. Roddy Grant reclaims the openside flanker berth from Ross Rennie.
"We're not usually at home for the first leg, but that gives us no real advantage, it's what we make of it," said Lineen ahead of the clash. "There are some terrific match-ups all over the field, but it's not about individuals, but about how we work as a team."
Edinburgh boss Rob Moffat has urged his players to not only win in the West, but to also entertain the nation's rugby fans. "We want to win every match and we will go into this one against Glasgow at Firhill with a positive mindset. Winning is our main priority, but, in front of what is expected to be a big crowd at Firhill and with lots of TV viewers watching, we want to be able to entertain people as well.
Glasgow: Bernardo Stortoni; DTH van der Merwe, Max Evans, Graeme Morrison, Thom Evans; Dan Parks, Chris Cusiter; Jon Welsh, Dougie Hall, Moray Low; Alastair Kellock (capt), Richie Gray; Kelly Brown, John Barclay, Richie Vernon.
Edinburgh: Chris Paterson (capt); John Houston, Ben Cairns, Nick De Luca, Tim Visser; Phil Godman, Greig Laidlaw; Allan Jacobsen, Ross Ford, Geoff Cross; Steve Turnbull, Scott MacLeod; Alan MacDonald, Roddy Grant, Scott Newlands.
Referee: Neil Paterson
Firdose Moonda looks at the moves towards greater integration within South African rugby ... and what the future holds
Martin Gillingham looks ahead to what he believes is the most remarkable ever climax to the league phase of the Top 14
With just two rounds left in the regular season, we look at the prospects of the teams taking part in the Championship play-offs
Joe Simpson talks to Charlie Morgan about loss, Wasps and being England's game-breaker