The latest edition of the 1872 Cup takes place at BT Murrayfield with historic rivals Edinburgh Rugby and Glasgow Warriors go head to head as the Guinness PRO14 returns.
In the final round of fixtures before Christmas, both sides will be keen to make a winning start to life back in domestic action after a fortnight of European rugby which saw both sides hit the heights.
Edinburgh did the double over Newcastle Falcons to hit the front of their Champions Cup pool, while Glasgow grabbed a pair of wins over Lyon as they chase down Saracens.
What’s at stake?
To put things simply: bragging rights.
With Edinburgh claiming the inaugural title of the three-match reformatted era last season thanks to two home victories over the Warriors, Glasgow will be keen to wrestle back the title.
To further stoke their motivation, Dave Rennie’s men will be desperate to protect their advantage at the top of Conference A, standing at seven-points over Munster before the start of play, in what has so far been an outstanding season for the Warriors.
For Edinburgh’s part, they will be desperate to put another dent in Glasgow’s 1872 record, with their rivals owning a 7-3 1872 Cup record overall.
And after a tough few weeks in the Guinness PRO14, their European jaunts will give them hope that they can do just that on home soil.
Team news (Edinburgh)
Scotland international Ben Toolis is set to make his 100th appearance for the side in the derby match-up, where he will become the club’s 32nd centurion when he starts at second row.
He’ll play alongside a man who’s already a member of that prestigious club in Grant Gilchrist in what is an experienced side put out by Richard Cockerill.
The only change to the team that beat Newcastle last time out is that of Pierre Schoeman, who comes in at front-row for his first 1872 Cup appearance, with Allan Dell dropping to the bench.
Team news (Glasgow)
Edinburgh aren’t the only sides who will be toasting a landmark appearance-maker, with Pete Horne selected to feature for the 150th time for the Warriors.
The 29-year-old starts at inside centre where he is partnered by Nick Grigg outside him, with his younger brother George at scrum-half.
DTH van der Merwe starts on the left with Tommy Seymour and Stuart Hogg making up the back three.
In the pack, Grant Stewart starts in the front row after signing his first professional contract with the side this week, while Adam Ashe comes in at the back.
Edinburgh head coach Cockerill said: “Derby games are just different. I’ve learned very quickly since arriving in Scotland that, in matches between Edinburgh and Glasgow, the form book goes out the window.
“The boys are really looking forward to the match. It’s derby day, we’re at home, and we’re certainly going to leave everything out on the field. It’s shaping up to be a tasty battle.”
Glasgow head coach Rennie said: “We’ve got ourselves in a strong position in both competitions and will be looking to carry on our good form into these festive derby matches.
“Edinburgh have a strong kicking game, but we know if we can defuse that we’ll get lots of opportunities to attack.”
Key battle: Hamish Watson v Callum Gibbins
In his pre-match thoughts on this one, Rennie said that he was “looking forward to watching two of the best 7s in the competition go head-to-head,” and who can argue with him when it comes to comparing Watson and Gibbins?
Glasgow’s skipper has been a vital cog in the back row ever since he joined the side back in 2017, while the fact that Watson has already racked up 90 appearances for his side as well demonstrates the responsibility bestowed upon the 27-year-old’s shoulders.
Their physical statures, coupled with impressive mobility, makes for two deadly rugby players both defensively and going forward, and the performance of each will likely have significant ramifications on the result.
Key stat: All ten of Edinburgh’s fixtures in the Championship this season have been won by the home side on the day, while their most recent defeat at BT Murrayfield was to Ulster in April.
Did you know? This is the 163rd inter-city contest between Edinburgh and Glasgow and the first of three this season to count towards the 1872 Cup, currently held by Edinburgh, who have won three of the last four fixtures between the two clubs.
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. Luke Hamilton, 7. Hamish Watson, 8. Bill Mata
Replacements: 16. David Cherry, 17. Allan Dell, 18. Pietro Ceccarelli, 19. Callum Hunter-Hill, 20. Luke Crosbie, 21. Nathan Fowles, 22. Simon Hickey, 23. Juan Pablo Socino
Glasgow Warriors: 15. Stuart Hogg, 14. Tommy Seymour, 13. Nick Grigg, 12. Peter Horne, 11. DTH van der Merwe, 10. Adam Hastings, 9. George Horne; 1. Oli Kebble, 2. Grant Stewart, 3. Siua Halanukonuka, 4. Rob Harley, 5. Jonny Gray, 6. Adam Ashe, 7. Callum Gibbins (c), 8. Matt Fagerson
Replacements: 16. Kevin Bryce, 17. Jamie Bhatti, 18. D’Arcy Rae, 19. Tim Swinson, 20. Chris Fusaro, 21. Ali Price, 22. Huw Jones, 23. Niko Matawalu
TV: At BT Murrayfield Stadium, Edinburgh, 5.15pm. Live on Premier Sports, eir Sport
Referee: Mike Adamson (SRU, 27th competition game)
Assistant Referees: Lloyd Linton, Keith Allen (both SRU)
TMO: Andrew McMenemy (SRU)
Citing Commissioner: Beth Dickens (SRU)
Duhan van der Merwe scored two intercepted tries as Edinburgh beat rivals Glasgow Warriors 23-7 to take home the 1872 Cup.
The South African winger plucked two Adam Hastings passes out of the air and let his pace do the rest as his scores either side of half-time gave Edinburgh the Christmas bragging rights.
Glasgow did have a moment to savour after the Horne brothers delivered a stunning try on Peter’s 150th appearance but the defeat will leave supporters frustrated over the festive period.
Edinburgh started the brighter of the two teams and were rewarded with the first penalty of the match after a Rob Harley infringement at the ruck.
Jaco van der Walt, who has not missed a kick at goal all season, made it 3-0.
Glasgow’s first real attack resulted in a try at the other end when Hastings’ pass was intercepted by Van der Merwe who pinned his ears back and galloped 60 metres to dot down in the corner.
Stuart Hogg got back to get a hand on the South African but there was no stopping him and Van der Walt extended his record from the tee.
— Edinburgh Rugby (@EdinburghRugby) December 22, 2018
Another penalty from Van der Walt made it 13-0 with 20 minutes played.
Glasgow fans had even less to sing about as the first half went on and will have been wincing as they watched their first attacking lineout turned over by their rivals.
The Warriors’ first points were worth waiting for however as the Horne brothers demonstrated their telepathic connection with George putting a delightful chipped kick over Edinburgh’s defence for brother Peter to catch and score on his 150th appearance for the club. Hastings added an easy conversion to bring the scores back to 13-7.
Callum Gibbins was sent to the sin-bin ten minutes into the second half for an offside as he tried to interrupt another Van der Merwe attack to leave Edinburgh with a numerical advantage and Van der Walt capitalised immediately, knocking over the resulting penalty.
Inevitably it was then Van der Merwe at the double. In almost identical circumstances as the first half, he plucked another Hastings pass out of the air before turning on the after burners.
No catching him and Van der Walt added two more to make it 23-7.
Edinburgh have now won six of the past eight derby meetings, with the teams meeting again at Scotstoun on 29 December for the second game of the best-of-three series.