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Zebre V Edinburgh

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Post by RDW on Thu Oct 25, 2018 12:13 pm

First topic message reminder :

Pierre Schoeman returns from a four-week suspension to feature in the Edinburgh starting XV to face Zebre at Stadio Sergio Lanfranchi in the Guinness PRO14 tomorrow evening (Friday 26 October, kick-off 7pm BST/ 8pm local time) – live on Free Sports.

The inclusion of the loosehead prop is one of ten changes made to the capital side as Head Coach Richard Cockerill hands a debut to Fosroc Scottish Rugby Academy product and second-row, Jamie Hodgson.

Henry Pyrgos captains the side which features six internationalists, including Scotland caps Dougie Fife, Ross Ford, Simon Berghan and Luke Hamilton, while Duhan van der Merwe returns to the starting line-up after missing both of Edinburgh’s Heineken Champions Cup fixtures through injury.

Elsewhere, Italian international prop Pietro Ceccarelli, Callum Atkinson, Mungo Mason and Jason Baggott are all selected on the bench and if involved will make their first competitive appearance for the capital side.

Ahead of the fixture, Head Coach Richard Cockerill, said: “Beating Toulon last weekend was a good step forward in our development, but now we’ve got to set that standard every time we play. We’ve got to do it again against Zebre this weekend.

“We’ve obviously had guys away training with Scotland, but we’ve got a good squad and we’ve got to utilise it.

“Getting a win in Zebre is as important as anywhere else, so we’ve just got to get it right. It’s important that we keep up the consistency in our performances.”

Fife is named at fullback alongside wingers Van der Merwe and Darcy Graham, with the latter retaining his position on the flank following a string of impressive performances both domestically and in Europe.

In the midfield, James Johnstone is partnered by Chris Dean, who gets the nod at inside centre following his try-scoring performance from the bench against RC Toulon last weekend. Simon Hickey is reinstated to the starting XV alongside Pyrgos at half-back.

A revamped front-row sees Ford make his second start of the season alongside props Schoeman and Berghan, while Stewart’s Melville products Hodgson and Callum Hunter-Hill form the second-row.

Fijian international Bill Mata starts at number eight, with Luke Crosbie and Hamilton completing the back-row.



Edinburgh team to face Zebre at Stadio Sergio Lanfranchi in the Guinness PRO14 on Friday 26 October, kick-off 7pm BST/ 8pm local time – live on Free Sports



15. Dougie Fife (114)



14. Darcy Graham (9)

13. James Johnstone (25)

12. Chris Dean (71)

11. Duhan van der Merwe (23)



10. Simon Hickey (7)

9. Henry Pyrgos (7) CAPTAIN



1. Pierre Schoeman (4)

2. Ross Ford (185)

3. Simon Berghan (55)

4. Jamie Hodgson *

5. Callum Hunter-Hill (2)

6. Luke Hamilton (6)

7. Luke Crosbie (15)

8. Bill Mata (43)



Replacements: 16. David Cherry (2); 17. Rory Sutherland (67); 18. Pietro Ceccarelli*; 19. Callum Atkinson*; 20. Mungo Mason*; 21. Sean Kennedy (64); 22. Jason Baggott*; 23. Juan Pablo Socino (4)



*Edinburgh competitive debut

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Post by BigGee on Mon Oct 29, 2018 9:21 am

I agree with you Brendan on that one.

Toonie was very good at that in his Glasgow days, though it could be said he took it to extremes at times.

Dave Rennie did not master the art last year and it cost Glasgow when they can out of steam very badly at the end of last season. He seems to have more of a grasp of it this year.

Anyone who coaches either of the Scottish pro sides needs to face up to the reality that for parts of the year they are going to lose the vast bulk of their first team players and so good rotation policies and bringing players on is an essential requirement of success.

I think Cockers may still be struggling with that one a bit.

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Post by RDW on Mon Oct 29, 2018 9:25 am

Cockers definitely dropped the ball on this one - he has kept the same 25 or so players all season up until the Zebre game. Some of these players should have been rotated earlier in the season so that they weren't all making their debuts at the same time or would have had a few more games to their name by this time. I'm thinking Dave Cherrie and the Italian prop as prime examples - the former has only had a couple of appearances off the bench and the latter was making his debut. CHH should have had more involvement too - instead Cockers picked 2 back rows on the bench for several games in a row.

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Post by EST on Mon Oct 29, 2018 10:00 am

It was really strange that CHH wasn't included on the bench for those games, it's not as if he didn't know that he would be without the four front line locks during this period. On the point of rotation, it is a very different mindset for a coach coming into the Pro 14 from the prem or abroad - Rennie and RC have both struggled. As previously pointed out, I think its one of the most important skills a coach can have in this league, balancing the team so that the drop off isn't extreme from game to game.

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Post by EWT Spoons on Mon Oct 29, 2018 10:44 am

To be fair, I don't think any of the lads who were making their debuts let the team down. Dougie, Pyrgos and Hickey cost us that game with 3 silly errors. Sure Cockers could have brought some of the lads in sooner, but arguably he may have wanted to bring them into a settled team, and so far this season we've been far from consistent, so maybe felt it wasn't the right time, and sadly his hand was forced against Zebre. However, as I say I don't think the fringe/young players were the cause of our defeat.

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Post by tigertattie on Mon Oct 29, 2018 10:51 am

I can't see how we can blame Cockers for this one. It's the players than need to perform in the game.

Folk saying we shouldn’t have gone with two babies in the 2nd row. I thought the two youngsters did ok, especially when you consider the carry on antics going on around them by the "experienced" players.

1. Dougie Fife letting the ball bounce
2. Ross Ford throwing balls that Nigel Owens would comment on their straightness
3. Pyrgos looking at a Zerbre player and passing him the ball
4. Pyrgos box kicking on our 10 when we'd only just got the ball back
5. Pyrgos standing at the base of the ruck wondering if he wanted salt and sauce or salt and vinegar on his chippy after the game.
6. Hickey missing a straight forward kick at the posts
7. Pyrgos deciding to take the kick to the posts in the first place

Nope, sorry, can't blame cockers here. A few players need to have a good long hard look at themselves and get the finger out. Ross Ford was a complete passenger. No mobility, no effectiveness at scrum or lineout. He used to be an effective ball carrier but he was being knocked on his backside each time. Has he gone one season too many as a pro?

The player who needs to have the longest look at himself is Pyrgos. That was an utterly terrible performance. What happened? Did he take too much on? Did he put too much pressure on himself thinking he had to prove himself to get back into Toonie’s thoughts for the national team? Or did he decide that as he wasn’t picked that he was going to stop caring about being a pro rugby player?
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Post by EWT Spoons on Mon Oct 29, 2018 11:04 am

Agree with this. Cockers and the inexperienced lads weren't to blame, it was poor performances from the older heads in the squad.

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Post by RDW on Mon Oct 29, 2018 11:09 am

I'm not saying Cockers was to blame for the deafeat but he is to blame for so many players coming into that game cold having not been involved. It's not good management IMO to know that this kind of thing was coming up and not prepare for it.

Ford was just awful - his official stats say 17m made off 13 carries but there were several that he made 0 m and a few where he was driven backwards. I hope Fenton recovers soon as Ford is not the future.

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Post by EWT Spoons on Mon Oct 29, 2018 11:20 am

RDW_Scotland wrote:I'm not saying Cockers was to blame for the deafeat but he is to blame for so many players coming into that game cold having not been involved. It's not good management IMO to know that this kind of thing was coming up and not prepare for it.

Ford was just awful - his official stats say 17m made off 13 carries but there were several that he made 0 m and a few where he was driven backwards. I hope Fenton recovers soon as Ford is not the future.

Aye but the lads coming in cold, largely were ok, it was the lads who have been playing every week (or near enough) who were at fault.

Agree with your chat on Ford though, I still don't understand how a man of his size and strength is so utterly useless at times with making metres. Getting driven backwards is just poor.

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Post by RDW on Mon Oct 29, 2018 11:27 am

By OK we basically mean they didn't do anything wrong, but generally they just didn't really do anything!

Looking at the stats again confirmed my view that JJ was utterly annonymous - he made 0m from 4 runs apparently all game. That's appalling from a 13.

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Post by EWT Spoons on Mon Oct 29, 2018 11:37 am

I'd disagree with that.

Our scrum was fairly solid from what I can remember and CHH and Hogson/Atkinson did well enough at the lineouts.  Certainly it looked like CHH was very vocal when it came to the lineout.

The players around them let the team down.  Pyrgos being slow as a week in the jail to pretty much everything didn't help them.  Fordy finding the form he's been famous for, for the last few seasons didn't help them, Hickey getting slow ball from Pyrgos and throwing an intercepted pass didn't help them.

Had Fife, Ford, Pyrgos & Hickey not played as bad as they did, then there would have been no issue with the lads that came in.

With that said, Pyrgos should have been hooked sooner, that was a mistake from Cockers, and I agree that our Italian TH should probably have seen some mins this season before now, but it was the experienced payers that let the team down and it would be harsh to judge the young/fringe players for their mistakes.

As you say JJ did nothing, but to be fair he saw very little of the ball thanks to the horror show that was our 9 & 10's performance.

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Post by EWT Spoons on Mon Oct 29, 2018 11:55 am

With that said, whilst I'm not sure there was an issue with some of the young/fringe players getting game time, I think Cockers/coaching team does need to take some blame for the result.

As I said above Pyrgos shouldn't have stayed on the pitch for as long as he did, it was clear for most of the 2nd half that he was having a mare. Sure Kennedy hasn't been great, but he would have offered something different. Certainly could have sped the game up a bit.

Tactically we seem to have plan A which is heavily focused on Pyrgos box kicking and pragmatic rugby. If that fails, then our Plan B seems to be do more of Plan A. We have shown at times this season that when our players get quick ball and run with it and offload we can score and cause teams problems, but it's a rarity other than something we try when box kicking isn't working.

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Post by RDW on Mon Oct 29, 2018 12:02 pm

The tactics are a strange one as the lower the quality of opposition the more pragmatic we become. Against Toulon, Montpellier, Leinster, Ulster etc we were actually quite adventurous, however against Zebre, Connacht, Cheetahs, Treviso etc we box kick to death, do 1 out passes and pick and goes and are just god awful to watch at time.

I'm fairly confident that even if we had our first choice team out against Zebre we still would have done death by box kick and one out passes, getting us nowhere.

Final word from me on stats - VDM's contribution across the 80 minutes was 2 tackles and 2 runs!

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Post by EWT Spoons on Mon Oct 29, 2018 12:16 pm

100% agree on tactics, and arguably we have played better against the higher quality opposition than we have against the 'in theory' weaker teams.  It's almost like there is something in that...

On VDM, I am pretty sure we have played better this season (or got better results) without him in the team than we have with him.  Now last season he was a revelation, but something has changed as he's not the same.

I think this might be related to our halfbacks.  Pyrgos is very pragmatic and sends box kicks a lot, which cuts his chance of getting the ball, unless the balls comes down on his side, which removes his main threat of running at the opposition.  Same with Hickey. Last season SHC & Jaco made breaks and offloads which can get our wings involved, whereas Hickey & Pyrgos sit back and like kicking the ball or playing slower ball.  

I know Graham counters that point, but he's desperate for his place in the team and pops up everywhere looking for the ball, whereas Duhan stays on the wing more, which is understandable as he was devastating out wide last season

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Post by RDW on Mon Oct 29, 2018 12:29 pm

SHC had great awareness and VDM got a few tries from kicks over the top or sneeky plays down the blindside. He's just not being brought into the game this season, and like Visser you need to do that as he's not going to go looking for work.

I was one of the few who didn't want SHC to go, and comparing him to Pyrgos this season we're certainly not any better off and could be argued that we're worse off, especially comparing it to SHC's form after the 6N.

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Post by EWT Spoons on Mon Oct 29, 2018 12:33 pm

RDW_Scotland wrote:SHC had great awareness and VDM got a few tries from kicks over the top or sneeky plays down the blindside.  He's just not being brought into the game this season, and like Visser you need to do that as he's not going to go looking for work.

I was one of the few who didn't want SHC to go, and comparing him to Pyrgos this season we're certainly not any better off and could be argued that we're worse off, especially comparing it to SHC's form after the 6N.

Again 100% on both points. SHC suited our style of play, I know he was hit and miss during his time with us, but he was great last year.

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Post by EST on Mon Oct 29, 2018 12:38 pm

I wasn't blaming the younger players, more the wider point that Cockers doesn't seem to trust rotation and that over the course of a season that usually has a detrimental effect. As an example, would Pyrgos have played better had he been rested earlier on in the season and Shiel put in a good display to apply some pressure? Impossible to say, of course, but in general I think Cockers needs to learn to use his squad more.

On the Edinburgh tactics point, some of the one out runner stuff they have served up has been really poor, especially against more organised defences, that just isn't going to work.

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Post by EWT Spoons on Mon Oct 29, 2018 1:04 pm

Trying to work out who is likely to be about for the Scarlets game. If Darcy is called up, there is a chance he might not be released back. Crosbie has apparently got a broken jaw and needs sugery. Pyrgos, fife, ford and hickey all deserve to be dropped, but won't because of a lack of options.

Team is going to be interesting when it's announced

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Post by TJ on Mon Oct 29, 2018 8:24 pm

On the box kicks - its clearly a tactic they have been told to do as all 9s have been doing it.  At least Pyrgos is usually OK at it.

hate it but I am fairly confident thats what they have been told to do

I don't think Pyrgos was as bad as some on here are saying.  Ok rather thanpoor o0r good

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Post by tigertattie on Tue Oct 30, 2018 11:05 am

RDW_Scotland wrote:The tactics are a strange one as the lower the quality of opposition the more pragmatic we become. Against Toulon, Montpellier, Leinster, Ulster etc we were actually quite adventurous, however against Zebre, Connacht, Cheetahs, Treviso etc we box kick to death, do 1 out passes and pick and goes and are just god awful to watch at time.

I'm fairly confident that even if we had our first choice team out against Zebre we still would have done death by box kick and one out passes, getting us nowhere.

Final word from me on stats - VDM's contribution across the 80 minutes was 2 tackles and 2 runs!

Is it possible that Edinburgh/Cockers isn't playing a gameplan to suit how Edinburgh play but rather are playing game plans that he feels negates the style of the other team?
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