This European Challenge Cup quarter-final special edition of the Opposition View comes courtesy of Edinburgh fan @TheBlack_n_Red, as he offers the lowdown on Saturday’s hosts in the battle of the capital cities.
How pleased are you with Edinburgh’s season so far?
Followed the team for just shy of 20 years, struggling to comprehend it to be honest. Too many times we’ve had a change of coach and had the “it will take two to three years to really bed in” type chat but this time we’re seeing genuine progress after two to three months of the season. Thankfully a heavy dose of pessimism acquired from following them over that 20 years is stopping me getting too carried away! Enjoying the ride….
What has been the standout Edinburgh game for you?
For more than one reason it has to be the home 1872 game v Glasgow. We lose a player to a red card after just 6 minutes and that’s it against a team like Glasgow, game over, Christmas ruined. This time though our players had other ideas! After a fairly standard start to the season (decent wins followed by poor losses) this was the first time we really showed something different, a mentality to keep fighting, to back each other up.
Who has been the standout Edinburgh player for you?
Tough one but if pushed it has to be The King, Blair Kinghorn. Real consistency to his game and a genuine sense of anticipation every time he gets the ball with a bit of space. Big Bill Mata deserves an honourable mention also, runs himself into the ground and a real threat, a joy to watch in attack and defence
What has changed at Edinburgh under Richard Cockerill?
When we talked pre-season I felt that someone new to Scotland / Edinburgh, with the character to not accept that “this is just how things are done” would be good for us. I expected him to create our team to lack for nothing in terms of endeavour, well I’ve got that in spades!
With minimal squad changes he’s turned us into a very different outfit, one that have really bought into a common vision, that doesn’t tend to know when beaten. Sure we may lose but you’ll know you’ve been in a battle. I don’t feel anyone has beaten us for a while without earning it.
What are the hopes for the rest of the season now?
Ideally we’ll win all our remaining games and have a open-top bus tour of the capital to show off the silverware…. I am however realistic (see response to first question!). From now on in the games are only getting harder and we’ll be up against top teams with all their stars available. If we can push Scarlets all the way for that second spot in Conference B I’d be more than happy.
Wherever we finish as long as the boys continue to put in the effort they’ve been doing I’ll be made up. All they can do is keep trying to win games, let’s see where it gets us. As for the Challenge Cup I’d take a defeat in France in the Semi Final to be honest, my focus is on doing the best we can in the league. (I’d looked at getting over to Bilbao when it was first announced, not cheap!!).
What have you made of Cardiff Blues generally so far?
You started pretty poorly, it’s announced your coach is moving on yet been playing pretty well, it’s something Edinburgh would do!! Ignoring the Anglo-Welsh (and why wouldn’t you) it’s been a pretty good season for you, that third spot is still within your grasp and even if you miss out then Champions Cup via the play off is very possible. I imagine you’d have taken that in pre-season? (Automatic qualification from fourth will do just fine, Ed.)
Prediction for Saturday?
I’m nervous, you have players that have caused us issues in the past. We are entering the game as favourites, something we still have to get used to. We also have the distraction of at least maintaining our Play-Off spot and maybe even improving it. Finally you have a massive carrot of a home tie in the Semis IF you win.
Saying all that, I don’t feel Cockers will let our boys be distracted – there’s so much competition for places to be part of all these big games coming up that players know they can’t afford to slip up. I think it’s going to be a really good game with us winning by less than 10.
Thanks again to @TheBlack_n_Red for his insight ahead of what will be a superb game on Saturday, may the best team win!