European Challenge Cup: Edinburgh v Gloucester
Edinburgh prop Alasdair Dickinson has called his side’s European Challenge Cup final against Gloucester “huge”, with the Scottish capital outfit 15/8 to run out winners.
“It’s up there with probably one of the most exciting games I’ve played in,” said Dickinson, who is 14/1 to score anytime. “It’s massive for the club and us as a group of boys.”
Dickinson returned to Edinburgh two season ago after leaving for Gloucester in 2007, where he spent four seasons. He knows what to expect from the favourites, but is adamant Edinburgh’s recent good form shows they are in a good place going into the game.
“We’re pretty confident,” said the 31-year-old. “The last three games have been good and now it’s just about fine-tuning a few things.
“We know what lies ahead of us, it’s a massive test, obviously Gloucester are on form as well so it’s going to be a challenge.
“I think from what the season’s been like, I don’t think anybody really expected us to get here at the start of the year. It’s a huge game.”
After a tricky start to the campaign, Dickinson revealed that the reason for their turnaround was quite simple, saying it was down to: “Just hard work. I don’t have any magic answers for you.
“There’s a lot of times this season where we’ve been pretty low, especially at the start of the year. But it was just about coming together and not listening to what people outside the organisation were saying and just concentrate on getting better.
“Doing the little things. Little things make a big difference in rugby.”
Dougie Fife and Tim Visser on either wing are both expected to make their 50th European appearance, and are 10/3 and 7/4 respectively to cross anytime.
Gloucester director of rugby, David Humphreys, meanwhile, has named a strong side for the match, and is confident that the side, odds-on at 4/9 for the win can get a result.
“We probably didn’t expect to get to this stage this year, but we know the quality that is within this group and, on its day, this team can compete with anybody,” said Humphreys.
There will be no worries that scrum half Greg Laidlaw, who swapped the Scottish capital side last season for the Cotswolds side, will have no trouble getting motivated for the occasion, and is 8/1 to score anytime against his former club.
He is likely to re-establish his half back partnership with James Hook, while Bill Meakes joins captain Billy Twelvetrees in midfield with the duo 10/3 and 9/2 respectively to cross anytime.
Edinburgh: 15 Greig Tonks, 14 Dougie Fife, 13 Sam Beard, 12 Andries Strauss, 11 Tim Visser, 10 Phil Burleigh, 9 Sam Hidalgo-Clyne; 1 Alasdair Dickinson, 2 Ross Ford, 3 WP Nel, 4 Anton Bresler, 5 Ben Toolis, 6 Mike Coman (c), 7 Roddy Grant, 8 Cornell Du Preez.
Replacements: 16 Stuart McInally, 17 Rory Sutherland, 18 John Andress, 19 Fraser McKenzie, 20 Hamish Watson, 21 Nathan Fowles, 22 Tom Heathcote, 23 Tom Brown.
Gloucester: 15 Charlie Sharples, 14 Jonny May, 13 Bill Meakes, 12 Billy Twelvetrees (c), 11 Henry Purdy, 10 James Hook, 9 Greig Laidlaw; 1 Nick Wood, 2 Richard Hibbard, 3 John Afoa, 4 Tom Savage, 5 Tom Palmer, 6 Ross Moriarty, 7 Matt Kvesic, 8 Gareth Evans.
Replacements: 16 Darren Dawidiuk, 17 Yann Thomas, 18 Sila Puafisi, 19 Mariano Galarza, 20 Jacob Rowan, 21 Dan Robson, 22 Billy Burns, 23 Steve McColl.