Reivers face stiff task against the Saints
December 10, 1999
Edinburgh Reivers go into their Heineken Cup double-header against Northampton tomorrow determined to make their trip to Franklins Gardens more than a fact-finding mission.
Having already recorded victories over Grenoble and Neath in the competition, the Scottish Super District are the surprise leaders of Pool 6 and in line for a place in the knock-out stages for the first time.
But they face arguably their stiffest test against the side which used to be coached by new Scotland chief Ian McGeechan and is packed with players of international pedigree.
England half-back pair Matt Dawson and Paul Grayson, Samoan skipper Pat Lam and Scotland flanker Budge Pountney are just four of the men available to John Steele, McGeechan's summer replacement.
"It will be a good test for my squad because Northampton have a lot of quality,'' said Reivers coach Ian Rankin. "Matt Dawson is their key player and they missed him in their first two matches, so we don't want to allow him any space at all."Rankin has named veteran Scotland centre Alan Tait in a starting line-up which contains nine full internationals, with Chris Paterson having failed to recover from a knee injury sustained on Sevens duty in Dubai.
But while he recognises that one win from either tomorrow's encounter _ or the return clash at Myreside next Friday would almost certainly guarantee a play-off spot Rankin refuses to hold anything back.
"We are not travelling down there to see what their strengths and weaknesses
"Psychologically, we could do a lot of damage by getting a result in the
Northampton will be without England forward Tim Rodber through injury, although Argentinian prop Martin Scelzo may make the bench after recovering from a hamstring injury.
The Saints were beaten 20-18 by Grenoble in their last Heineken Cup outing, although Steele feels his team were unfortunate not to come away with a win.
"They were a very big side but I thought we moved them around the field very well," he said. "Now we face two huge games with the Reivers. They are one of the surprise packages of the Heineken Cup and I have already told my players that you can never underestimate a Scottish team. We will not be taking anything for granted."