Reivers seek cup tonic
January 7, 2000
Edinburgh Reivers coach Ian Rankin is convinced his injury-hit side will turn over Neath in the Heineken Cup at Myreside tomorrow.
The Reivers are bidding to bounce back from two heavy defeats at the hands of Northampton which have left their hopes of qualification from Pool Six hanging by a thread.
Rankin admitted that his side must defeat their Welsh opponents to retain any interest in the competition.
Their hopes have not been helped by a succession of injuries to key players which have seen Scotland winger Cammie Murray switched inside to partner skipper Graham Shiel in the centres.
International trip Derrick Lee, Alan Tait and Chris Paterson are all out, as is lock Nathan Hines.
Kenny Milligan takes over Murray's wing berth, while Stuart Lang steps in at full-back for Lee, who suffered a shoulder injury in Scotland A's hammering of Holland last month.
With Andy Lucking replacing Nathan Hines, who also has a shoulder problem, in the second row, Rankin has been forced to make more changes than he would have wished for such an important contest.
But it has done nothing to dent his confidence of recording another winover
"All games seem to be built into crucial ones," said Rankin. "But this one definitely falls into that category.
"But we will get this one sorted. The 15 blokes on the pitch do not need any reminding how important this match is."
The Reivers dominated the previous meeting between the two sides and their final margin of victory only flattered he Welsh All Blacks.
However, Rankin feels Neath whose only in in the competition so far came against Grenoble will be out for evenge and could provide a more formidable challenge.
"I am expecting a pretty physical game," he said.
"Neath have beefed up their pack and I'm sure they will try to take us on up front.
"But they can be devastating when the move the ball out wide. They were 36-0 up at half-time against Grenoble and if we give them space they do have the ability to come at us."
Not that hooker Steve Scott is too concerned with the Welshmen. The burly front-row feels the Reivers should be concentrating on their own strengths, not their opponents.
"We are look at other packs and note how big they are but we are not small ourselves. People tend to think of us as small and mobile but Matthew Proudfoot, Barry Stewart and Iain Fullarton are all pretty big men.
"I'm sure Neath will come at us right from the start but we have to be focused and go for them."
Glasgow Caledonians flew to Leinster with an expanded squad as they bid to become the first team in Pool One to record an away win.
The Reds have been hit by a flu virus over the last 10 days and although coach Richie Dixon is confident most of his team will have recovered for tomorrow night's clash with the Irish province, he did not want to take any chances.
"I want to make sure the 22 we name for the game are fully fit," he said. "There is no point getting to kick-off time and finding you are a man short, especially when a win would give us a major lift."
All four sides in the group have recorded two wins from four games so far in a pool which, as predicted, has turned into the tightest of all.
Leinster were considered the weakest team in the pool but after recording
"I would imagine they will have slightly more experience than they had before," he said. "Emmett Farrell is back at stand off and he will give them more direction and stabilise them. They also have the traditional Irish spirit so we will have to be at our best to get anything from the game."
Swansea will be looking to reverse their 46-3 hammering by Toulouse when they entertain the French side at St Helens tomorrow night.
With a back-breaking three games in a week set to determine their fate in the competition, Swansea team manager Baden Evans knows they must start with a win.
But he was honest with his assessment of the last time the two teams met.
"Toulouse are an extremely talented side, and in our match over there, we were lucky to come second," he said.
"It is in our own hands, and we simply have to go for 10 points from the pool games. That is asking a lot, but nothing else will do."