Edinburgh planning another 'ambush' in South Africa
PLAY-OFF SPOTLIGHT: It was March 26 in Durban when doubters finally started taking notice of Edinburgh’s credentials.
The Scottish outfit, with a number of South African players in their ranks, upstaged the Sharks 21-5 at a very wet Kings Park.
However, there was a notice much earlier in the season – a 20-all draw against the Stormers in Edinburgh back in October.
Now Edinburgh heads to Cape Town next week, for a United Rugby Championship quarterfinal showdown with the Stormers.
Captain Grant Gilchrist admitted the outing at Kings Park in March will fill them with confidence, as they prepare to return to South Africa.
“Having had a successful tour earlier in the year, we know what the travel looks like,” the 53-times capped Scotland lock said.
“We were able to perform seven days after arriving in Durban,” the 31-year-old added.
“There will be no excuses from our side.
“We are going to Cape Town to put our best game out there and to win.”
He said the play-offs are what players work for the entire season, but doing it against a top side in South Africa adds to the “excitement” of the occasion.
“The odds are against us,” the veteran second row forward said.
“We will take a lot of confidence from what we did this past weekend,” he said of Edinburgh’s 28-11 win over Glasgow Warriors in the 1872 Cup, wrapping up the Scottish/Italian Shield conference and booking a place in next season’s European Cup competition in a high-stakes derby at Murrayfield.
“We will look at how can we be better versions of ourselves and give ourselves the best opportunity to win.”
Gilchrist said that if they play their “best” game they can advance to the semifinals and host it in Edinburgh.
Edinburgh’s South African-born Scotland-capped prop Pierre Schoeman – one of seven players with South African links – described it as the “cherry on the cake” heading to Cape Town – a city he is intimately familiar with from his days as a Bulls front row forward.
“It will be a tough task, but we are heading there with confidence,” the 28-year-old former South African schools player and Baby Bok said – all his previous outings in the Mother City having been at the now disused Newlands Stadium in Cape Town.
Describing it as a “massive” game, he said they are preparing “accordingly”.
Schoeman said just reaching the quarterfinals is not enough and their goal is “knocking over big teams”.
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“We will go humbly, but confidently, to face a quality side with world-class players in it,” he said of the trip to Cape Town.
He said that there will be a big emphasis on the set-piece and physical battles.
“We learnt a lot from the 20-all draw with the Stormers [in Edinburgh in October last year],” the lock said, adding that the Scottish outfit has grown tremendously since their previous encounter.
Being able to measure himself against the likes of World Cup-winning Springboks Steven Kitshoff and Frans Malherbe is a challenge that excites the Nelspruit-born, Pretoria schooled prop.
“For me, it is all about growing as a pack and going there [Cape Town] as a unit.
“It is nice to go up against world-class players,” he said, adding: “That is how you measure yourself.
“That is why we all play, to get better ad play in these big games.”
Edinburgh will face Stormers in the quarterfinal next Saturday, June 4.