IF Duhan van der Merwe can repeat his heroics from the opening game of this year’s 1872 Cup series, by scoring two interception tries for Edinburgh against Glasgow Warriors at Scotstoun on Saturday, then his side will be well on their way to achieving the bonus point victory they will almost certainly need to qualify for the play-offs and/or keep their chances of being involved in the Champions Cup next season alive.
The problem, from his and Edinburgh’s perspective, is that Warriors are a far more self-assured and accomplished outfit now than they were back in December; and, with home advantage in a game that they also need to win in order to guarantee a favourable draw in the play-offs, it is highly unlikely that gifts will be handed out by Dave Rennie’s team this weekend in the same overly-generous way they were to the South African winger just before Christmas.
So, the key for Edinburgh is going to be balancing the need to pressurise Glasgow into making mistakes with the patience required to avoid being left exposed by one of the most dangerous backlines in European club rugby.
To do that, van der Merwe says the team must focus solely on the game and not worry about the bigger picture – because chasing the bonus point when the win is not already in the bag is a sure-fire route to disaster.
“We are obviously aware of the bonus point, but we still need to be patient, we still need to stick to our system and the way we play,” he said. “We’re not going to go out on Saturday and do something we haven’t done. Our system has been working for us.
“80 minutes is a long game, you can get a lot of tries, no matter what – but if we are going to push it from the beginning, we are going to force stuff and we don’t want to do that. We’ve got to go out there and do what we do best.
“In the last few games, they [Glasgow] have been very good,” he added. “They are a quality side. It is going to be a tough game, but, no matter what, we need to go out there full-blast and give our all. They’ve got a great backline but if you put some pressure on them then sometimes they are going to force it.”
Even if Edinburgh fall behind early on, van der Merwe says the team will stick to their guns.
“We’ve got the skills, we’ve got a good attacking system, so I would back the boys – even if we are down – to get the win,” he explained. “We’ve got a lot of fight in our squad. We have come back in previous games when we were down, we were down at Scarlets, but we came back when it was a must-win for us, and this weekend is also a must-win for us.
“Edinburgh always do well against Glasgow for some reason. For some reason the boys always pitch up and manage to get the win. I don’t think they like the way we play. They play a faster brand of rugby and we obviously try to slow it down and play our style of rugby. I don’t think they like that.”