Gor­do­nians have a Car­rick score to set­tle

The Press and Journal (North-East) - - SPORT -

Edinburgh head coach Richard Cock­er­ill has warned New­cas­tle Fal­cons his team will go into tonight’s Heineken Cham­pi­ons Cup clash against them at Mur­ray­field in con­fi­dent mood af­ter he wel­comed 10 in­ter­na­tion­als back into his line-up.

Edinburgh lost 44-14 to Mun­ster in the Guin­ness Pro14 last week­end but only two play­ers have re­tained their start­ing places – South African pair Jaco Van Der Walt and Duhan Van Der Merwe, who grabbed two tries at Ir­ish In­de­pen­dent Park.

Scot­land in­ter­na­tion­als Blair Kinghorn, Darcy Gra­ham, Henry Pyr­gos, Stu­art McI­nally, WP Nel, Ben Too­lis, Grant Gilchrist, Jamie Ritchie and Hamish Wat­son all re­turn to ac­tion fol­low­ing the Novem­ber in­ter­na­tion­als, which ended with vic­tory over Ar­gentina for their team. And Fiji num­ber eight Bill Mata also comes back in af­ter help­ing his coun­try beat France two weeks ago.

Edinburgh have a 100% record at BT Mur­ray­field this sea­son but they have lost all six games on the road. Cock­er­ill be­lieves they can con­tinue the home suc­cess against the Fal­cons.

He said: “It’s been great to get ev­ery­body back in, for ob­vi­ous rea­sons. They are all fit and well and ready to go. The lads who have been play­ing for Scot­land should all be con­fi­dent. When we’ve got our com­bi­na­tions right we’re as good as any team and I be­lieve we can com­pete with any team in Europe on our day.”

Edinburgh sit sec­ond in Pool 5, two points be­hind group lead­ers New­cas­tle.

“We need to win,” Cock­er­ill said. If you’re go­ing to qual­ify out of the group, then you’re go­ing to need to win three of the last four games at least to give your­self an op­por­tu­nity.”

New­cas­tle di­rec­tor of rugby Dean Richards is ex­pect­ing a stern test against Edinburgh.

He said: “We’ve had the beauty of win­ning both of our games in Europe so ev­ery­thing’s up for grabs in terms of how we can move on in this com­pe­ti­tion and it’s an im­por­tant game for us. You know what you’re go­ing to get from a side that’s coached by Richard Cock­er­ill.

“He’ll have them drilled and up for it and in some­one like Vil­iame Mata they have one of the best num­ber eights in world rugby who has been play­ing some un­be­liev­able stuff in re­cent months.” Gor­do­nians cap­tain Tom Wil­liams is fo­cused on en­sur­ing his side’s stop­start month will not im­pact on their ex­cel­lent un­beaten start to the sea­son.

The Aberdeen side re­lin­quished top spot last week­end af­ter their trip to St Boswells had to be post­poned due to a wa­ter­logged pitch.

The call-off was the third post­pone­ment in four weeks for the Gor­do­nians team and, as they pre­pare to face Car­rick at Countess­wells to­mor­row, Wil­liams is hop­ing for two week­ends of com­pet­i­tive rugby be­fore the fes­tive break.

He said: “It has been a frus­trat­ing month.

“When the fix­tures were an­nounced at the start of the sea­son we were op­ti­mistic of hav­ing a good run of games be­fore win­ter and if you had told us we would have three post­poned games I doubt any­one would have be­lieved you.

“It has been tough on the play­ers.

“But we’re de­ter­mined not to let it ad­versely af­fect us as we want to keep this run go­ing.

“We train ev­ery week re­gard­less but there is no doubt hav­ing a free week­end does have an ef­fect but what we have to do is en­sure it is min­i­mal.”

Wil­liams and his play- ers wel­come a Car­rick side which has man­aged to do some­thing no other team has done in Na­tional 3 this sea­son – deny the Aberdeen club vic­tory.

The two t eams con­tested a thrilling 27-27 draw when they faced each other on Septem­ber 15.

With Gor­do­nians hav­ing won all 10 of their other league games, Wil­liams is ea­ger to set the record straight this week­end.

He said: “The boys are feel­ing good and we are ready for this one. Car­rick caused us a lot of prob­lems the last time we played them.

“We learned a lot about our­selves in the 27-27 draw and we want to show how much we’ve im­proved since then.

“You know what you are get­ting from Car­rick.

“They ask ques­tions of you and it will be an­other hard match, but ev­ery game is in this league.”

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