We’re go­ing to have to be re­ally good over the next pe­riod

Evening Times - - RUGBY UNION: 1872 CUP -

this PRO14 cam­paign and left them lan­guish­ing fourth in Con­fer­ence A. They are only two points be­hind Toy­ota Chee­tahs, who are in that al­limpor­tant play-off qual­i­fy­ing third spot, but the South Africans have two games in hand – so the gap could the­o­ret­i­cally be as much as 12 points.

If War­riors are not yet in a cri­sis sit­u­a­tion, it is get­ting un­com­fort­ably close to that. “We have boxed our­selves into a bit of a corner,” ac­knowl­edged Ren­nie. “I think you can lose seven or eight games and still have a chance of mak­ing the play-offs, but we don’t want to try that the­ory out.

“We still have to play Ul­ster a cou­ple of times and we’ve still got to play Chee­tahs and Le­in­ster so there is a chance to claw back some points there. We’re go­ing to have to be re­ally good over the next pe­riod when we’ve got Tre­viso away, then Ze­bre and Dragons at home after the Euro­pean break.”

Ev­ery league point is go­ing to be a pris­oner, which means Darcy Gra­ham’s late try – which stretched the mar­gin of Ed­in­burgh’s vic­tory be­yond seven points and there­fore de­prived Glas­gow of even a los­ing bonus point – could have sig­nif­i­cant ram­i­fi­ca­tions at the end of the cam­paign.

Un­sur­pris­ingly, Ed­in­burgh head coach Richard Cockerill ap­proached the post-match media brief­ing from a very dif­fer­ent an­gle, push­ing a cau­tiously op­ti­mistic agenda – although he couldn’t quite dis­guise his de­light at how things panned out on Satur­day. The re­sult leaves his side sec­ond in Con­fer­ence B, just one point be­hind Mun­ster.

“We have to make sure we keep our con­sis­tency – it doesn’t mat­ter if we are top after round nine – that’s ir­rel­e­vant,” he stressed. “It is about be­ing in the top three after round 21 that mat­ters and that’s what we have to con­cen­trate on.

“Noth­ing gets given out tonight. In Europe, we are in the Chal­lenge Cup – it’s not the Cham­pi­ons Cup – so we know where we sit. We will keep de­vel­op­ing this team.

“That game was a big step for­ward for us. We had a big crowd and there was pres­sure on us to per­form – and we per­formed. Even if we hadn’t won, it was one hell of a game. A lot of peo­ple came to watch not know­ing who was go­ing to win and it was a bloody good game of rugby.”

One thing that is cer­tain to keep Cockerill’s feet firmly on the ground is the knowl­edge that his team’s con­tin­u­ing de­vel­op­ment into a lead­ing side in the PRO14 will have im­pli­ca­tions for in­ter­na­tional call-ups dur­ing the Six Na­tions win­dow.

“I would al­ways want a lit­tle bit more,” he replied, when asked if he was con­fi­dent that Ed­in­burgh has the strength in depth to cope with as many as 12 men play­ing reg­u­larly for Scot­land dur­ing the spring.

“We are los­ing more and more play­ers all the time. That’s the dy­namic with the land­scape shift­ing for this team. With the bud­get we have we need to have a good bal­ance.”

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