After a brief interlude for Christmas festivities, the Guinness PRO14 makes its return, with Glasgow Warriors and Edinburgh Rugby shaking off the turkey and preparing to do battle once more.
A pair of Duhan van der Merwe tries and 13-points from Jaco van der Walt, coupled with a standout defensive performance, handed Edinburgh the win last time out and set up the return fixture in perfect fashion.
With this the last Guinness PRO14 matchday of 2018, both sides will be looking to send off the year with a bang.
What’s at stake?
The fate of the 12th 1872 Cup hangs in the balance, with Edinburgh’s victory at BT Murrayfield meaning triumph at Scotstoun would hand them the trophy with a game to spare.
An away win would also level up the record between the two sides in Guinness PRO14 head-to-heads, with the Warriors currently sitting one ahead of their rivals on 16 in total, while it would no doubt also prove invaluable in the tightly fought race for the knockout stages.
But to do that they would have to battle their demons on the road and claim a first win away from home this season, and there are few tougher places to do so than Scotstoun.
Glasgow have won all five of their Guinness PRO14 fixtures on home turf this campaign, raking in 159 points and shipping just 66 in the process, and will be keen to keep Munster at bay at the top of Conference A with a win.
But with Edinburgh having lost only once in their last five encounters with the Warriors, this one is anyone’s to call.
Team news (Glasgow Warriors): Dave Rennie makes six changes to the side that lost out in the capital last weekend, with Alex Dunbar featuring for the first time since October at outside centre.
Ali Price slots in at scrum-half, with Warriors’ top try scorer Niko Matawalu the third and final change among the backs.
In the pack Rennie welcomes back co-captain Ryan Wilson, while Tim Swinson partners Jonny Gray in the second-row and D’Arcy Rae starts at tighthead.
Team news (Edinburgh Rugby): After digging in for a win that was as important as it was satisfying for Edinburgh, Richard Cockerill sees fit to name just the one change for this weekend’s clash.
Scottish international Jamie Ritchie, who missed his side’s last two fixtures through injury, comes into an experienced pack alongside Hamish Watson and Viliame Mata in the back row.
Last week’s matchwinners Jaco can der Walt and Duhan van der Merwe keep their places at fly-half and wing respectively, with James Johnstone and Chris Dean making up the midfield pairing for the fourth match on the bounce.
Glasgow Warriors Head Coach Dave Rennie said: “Defensively we played well last weekend but we didn’t ask enough questions of Edinburgh in attack. We’re going to have to be better in that department tomorrow.
“We’re in a position where we can replace quality with quality. Five of the six players we’re bringing in to the starting line-up are internationals, all six have played over 50 games for the club and four are centurions. We’ve named a very strong side.
Edinburgh Rugby Head Coach Richard Cockerill said: “We were delighted with result and the performance against Glasgow last weekend, but we know they’ll be hurting and we expect them to come back at us even stronger.
“There were a lot of positives to take out of last weekend’s win. We were really happy with our physicality and our set-piece, whilst we were really solid defensively.
Key battle: Nikola Matawalu v Duhan van der Merwe
After a low-scoring affair last weekend, both sides will look to their mercurial wingers to make the all-important breakthrough this time around.
Edinburgh’s leading scorer, Van der Merwe’s double at BT Murrayfield took his try total this season to six, while Matawalu tops the tally for the Warriors with five.
With van der Merwe’s score taking his total to three in Edinburgh’s last two games against Glasgow, Matawalu will certainly look to make his mark in the form of a first try against the Warriors’ old rivals.
Key stat: Edinburgh’s 21-8 victory at Newcastle in round 4 of the European Champions Cup was their first away victory since March when they beat Connacht in Galway in round 18 of the Guinness PRO14.
Did you know: Edinburgh Rugby have won their last three matches in all tournaments since their defeat to Munster in Cork at the end of November.
Glasgow Warriors: 15. Stuart Hogg, 14. Tommy Seymour, 13. Alex Dunbar, 12. Pete Horne, 11. Niko Matawalu, 10. Adam Hastings, 9. Ali Price; 1. Oli Kebble, 2. Grant Stewart, 3. D’Arcy Rae, 4. Tim Swinson, 5. Jonny Gray, 6. Ryan Wilson (cc), 7. Callum Gibbins (cc), 8. Matt Fagerson
Replacements: 16. Kevin Bryce, 17. Jamie Bhatti, 18. Siua Halanukonuka, 19. Rob Harley, 20. Chris Fusaro, 21. George Horne, 22. Sam Johnson, 23. DTH van der Merwe
Edinburgh Rugby: 15. Blair Kinghorn, 14. Darcy Graham, 13. James Johnstone, 12. Chris Dean, 11. Duhan van der Merwe, 10. Jaco van der Walt, 9. Henry Pyrgos; 1. Pierre Schoeman, 2. Stuart McInally (c), 3. WP Nel, 4. Ben Toolis, 5. Grant Gilchrist, 6. Jamie Ritchie, 7. Hamish Watson, 8. Viliame Mata
Replacements: 16. David Cherry, 17. Allan Dell, 18. Simon Berghan, 19. Callum Hunter-Hill, 20. Luke Crosbie, 21. Nathan Fowles, 22. Simon Hickey, 23. Juan Pablo Socino
TV: At Scotstoun Stadium, Glasgow 3pm. Live on Premier Sports and eir Sport
Referee: George Clancy
Assistant Referees: Stuart Gaffikin (IRFU), David Sutherland (SRU)
TMO: Neil Paterson (SRU)
Citing Commissioner: Douglas Hunter (SRU)
Stuart McInally scored the crucial try as Edinburgh clinched the 1872 Cup with a hard-fought 16-8 win over Glasgow Warriors at Scotstoun.
Having failed to win a single game on the road in the Guinness PRO14 so far this season, Edinburgh put an end to that run at the perfect moment as they completed the double over their close rivals.
A week on from a 23-7 success at BT Murrayfield, Edinburgh were again too strong, using a dominant scrum to suffocate the life out of their opponents.
And when Glasgow lost prop Oli Kebble to the sin-bin, Edinburgh pounced to win a scrum against the head and send McInally over.
Edinburgh had made the quicker start, Jaco van der Walt slotting an early penalty from a scrum infringement.
Glasgow responded, coming close on a couple of occasions before Adam Hastings got them on the board with a penalty from close range.
It was Edinburgh who led at the break though, Van der Walt again on target after Glasgow had strayed offside in their own 22.
After a first half dominated by indiscipline, 14 penalties in all, Glasgow’s front row finally paid the price early in the second.
With WP Nel and the impressive Pierre Schoeman turning the screw, Kebble paid the price and was sent to the bin.
From a penalty within less than a minute Bill Mata picked up from the back of the scrum against the head, and was stopped just short of the line. The ball was recycled quickly and Henry Pyrgos’ wide pass found McInally, who twisted his way over. Van der Walt’s conversion made it 13-3 to the visitors.
Glasgow continued to struggle to impose themselves, with Edinburgh able to extend their lead on the hour with a third penalty of the afternoon from Van der Walt.
The Warriors kept coming and did finally break through when replacement George Horne sold a dummy before touching down from close range.
Hastings had a crucial conversion with two minutes remaining but could not split the uprights, ensuring that Edinburgh could not be caught.
And despite one final dart down the left from DTH van der Merwe, Glasgow could not get over again, failing to pick up a point from either of the two clashes with their rivals.