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Plenty to play for

Guinness PRO12 Editor

14 Apr 2011

Edinburgh may be out of the running for the Magners League Play-Offs but they still have plenty to play for this season.

The Scottish capital side haven’t hit top form as often as they’d have liked this term and the result is that they won’t be competing for Grand Final glory on May 28.

It’s a disappointing realization for a side who finished second in the standings two seasons ago before missing out on an inaugural Play-Off place on the final afternoon of last term.

But while there is no doubt that Nick Scrivener’s men would love to still be in the mix for a semi-final spot, Edinburgh’s interim head coach admits that the desire to finish the year on a winning note is still driving them on.

"As a team, there is a big motivation to pick up a few wins," Scrivener told The Scotsman.

"We've had a disappointing season and we want to put in a performance in front of our own fans to prove to everyone that we are a team worth getting behind.2

And it’s not just a determination to end the 2010/11 campaign with an improved set of results that will be pushing Edinburgh onwards against Aironi on Friday night.

Scrivener has decided to return to Australia at the end of the season, meaning he won’t be taking on his current role on a permanent basis.

With Edinburgh searching for a new coach, the players know they need to make a good impression on any perspective new boss who will no doubt be looking at games played between now and the end of the year when he assesses his squad in the summer.

Throw in the presence of the autumn World Cup and it becomes clear that everyone in the Edinburgh squad has a great deal to play for in the remaining three games of the Magners League season.

"There is a new coach coming on board, so I'm sure there is a motivation there for the players to show whoever comes in what they are capable of," added Scrivener.

"Plus there are guys who are pushing for World Cup squad selection, and there are guys who are looking to take some momentum into their pre-season, either here or with a new club.

"So there are all sorts of factors there for individual players."

Edinburgh head into the Murrayfield clash with the League’s bottom side on the back of a 27-23 defeat at Connacht last time out.

That narrow reverse followed an outstanding win against reigning Magners League Champions the Ospreys at the end of March and Scrivener is looking for a repeat of that impressive victory when the Italian newcomers arrive at SRU HQ.

"Our aim has to be to control possession and play the match on our terms. We'll be up against a tenacious outfit who will fight to the last, and I'll be looking for the same sort of desire, impetus and execution from our guys that we saw against Ospreys.

"We carried well that night and our work at the breakdown was good, and the result was that we didn't have to do as much defending.

"If we look after the ball and play on the front foot, as well as tightening up the defence after some of the mistakes we made in Connacht, we'll put ourselves in a position to claim another positive home result."


Edinburgh beat Friday's opponents Aironi 10-9 in Italy

Scrivener knows that when Edinburgh perform to their peak they are more than a match for any side in the competition.

The Australian is also aware, however, that a below-par performance against Aironi could see his team come unstuck.

Edinburgh edged the reverse fixture back a single point back in October and Scrivener believes the debutants are now a much-improved outfit.

"Aironi are a direct sort of side who have the players and the systems to really hurt you if you let them play their own game.

"I don't know how many balls they dropped over the line against Glasgow. They had chances all over the place in that game and will be disappointed to have gone down narrowly, that's for sure.

"They scored off good set-piece ball, they scored off turnover ball and they scored on the counter-attack, so they are a threat all over the shop.

"James Marshall has played a lot of this season at full-back for them, but he's been at stand-off the last couple of weeks and done very well. They've also got Matteo Pratichetti and Danwel Demas, so they've got a few guys who can play, and, if they generate front-foot ball through their forwards and their big runners, they're capable of cutting you up.

"It's not going to be all about combating their physical threat: it's about stopping them from giving us the run-around as well."