Rugby Union: Murray's recovery has Reivers in mint condition

EDINBURGH REIVERS face a testing examination of their Heineken Cup credentials today when they travel to The Gnoll to play their Welsh- Scottish League rivals Neath.

The Scottish super-district travel south having opened their campaign with a win against the French side Grenoble last week and know that another two points will put them in line for at least a play-off place.

With the Scotland wing Cammie Murray restored to the side after recovering from a back spasm and Chris Paterson replacing the veteran Alan Tait in the centre, the Reivers coach, Ian Rankin, is confident his team can build on last weekend's success. But he admits they must become more clinical if they are to make an impression on the competition. Twice at Gala last week they held a healthy lead, only to allow Grenoble back into the match.

"We were well on top at one stage last week and if we had got a score at that time I would have been surprised if Grenoble had come back," Rankin said. "But we didn't put them away and made it difficult for ourselves. We must put points on the board and turn the screw if we are given the opportunity. The level of competition is too high to let our opponents off the hook."

Eventually, two late penalties from the outside-half Duncan Hodge sealed a five-point win but Rankin knows that the Welsh All-Blacks will need little prompting to exploit any sloppy play by their visitors.

The return of Murray for the ineffective Kenny Milligan bolsters the Reivers' back division. Milligan was identified as a weak link by Grenoble but Murray has proved on the World Cup stage that he is an impressive performer in both attack and defence.

Neath lost their Heineken Cup opener at Northampton last week but have already beaten the Reivers in the Welsh-Scottish League this season. However, they were soundly beaten by Glasgow Caledonians a fortnight ago and Rankin has been studying the match video.

"We share information. It is vital that we both do well so any hints they can give us are very valuable," he said.

"We struggled at the start against Neath the last time we played them but had scored three tries by the end and felt we were playing quite well.

"We have our international players back now, so our team is much stronger and it would be nice to think we would be four points clear of Neath on Saturday night."

In the Scottish Premiership, Glasgow Hawks fear the foul weather could be as big a threat to their chances of preserving their lead as rivals Jed-Forest. The sides meet at New Anniesland and Hawks would love to produce a repeat of their opening-day display when they swamped the Borderers at Riverside Park to the tune of 50 points. Hawks will start with the line-up that finished last weekend's victory over Currie at Malleny Park.

Meanwhile, the former London Scottish player Barry Irving is set to make his league debut for West of Scotland against Kelso at Poynder Park. The utility back has been released by Glasgow Caledonians to allow him to get some games under his belt after only being named as a substitute in their European Cup campaign so far.

Elsewhere, Gala enjoy home advantage in the local derby with Melrose, while the champions, Heriot's FP, should keep up their title challenge by beating Currie at Malleny. Watsonians will be slight favourites to edge out Hawick at Myreside.

Five English clubs made winning starts to the second-tier European Shield tournament last weekend - London Irish, Bristol, Gloucester, Newcastle and Bedford all beating tough opposition.

London Irish, Stoop conquerors of 1997 European champions Brive, go to Agen today, with tomorrow's Shield action seeing Bristol hosting Calvisano, Newcastle at home to Aurillac, Gloucester tackling Spain in Madrid and Bedford travelling to Rovigo in Italy.

"I am terribly excited to be playing in Europe," the London Irish coach, Dick Best, said. "Our domestic rugby was becoming so insular and incestuous - a treadmill with everyone knowing everyone else. For us the European Shield is all about learning on the hoof."

Newport have home advantage against Castres in probably the weekend's outstanding Shield fixture, but have been deprived of Jason Jones-Hughes' services.

The Australian centre, who won two Welsh caps during the World Cup, is unable to turn out because clearance from his contractual obligations in his own country was not received before the Shield registration deadline date.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Savvy Media Ltd: Media Sales executive - Crawley

£25k + commission + benefits: Savvy Media Ltd: Find a job you love and never h...

Austen Lloyd: Corporate Solicitor NQ+ Oxford

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: CORPORATE - Corporate Solicitor NQ+ An excelle...

Reach Volunteering: Financial Trustee and Company Secretary

Voluntary Only - Expenses Reimbursed: Reach Volunteering: A trustee (company d...

Recruitment Genius: Senior Project Manager

£45000 - £65000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Day In a Page

In a world of Saudi bullying, right-wing Israeli ministers and the twilight of Obama, Iran is looking like a possible policeman of the Gulf

Iran is shifting from pariah to possible future policeman of the Gulf

Robert Fisk on our crisis with Iran
The young are the new poor: A third of young people pushed into poverty

The young are the new poor

Sharp increase in the number of under-25s living in poverty
Greens on the march: ‘We could be on the edge of something very big’

Greens on the march

‘We could be on the edge of something very big’
Revealed: the case against Bill Cosby - through the stories of his accusers

Revealed: the case against Bill Cosby

Through the stories of his accusers
Why are words like 'mongol' and 'mongoloid' still bandied about as insults?

The Meaning of Mongol

Why are the words 'mongol' and 'mongoloid' still bandied about as insults?
Mau Mau uprising: Kenyans still waiting for justice join class action over Britain's role in the emergency

Kenyans still waiting for justice over Mau Mau uprising

Thousands join class action over Britain's role in the emergency
Isis in Iraq: The trauma of the last six months has overwhelmed the remaining Christians in the country

The last Christians in Iraq

After 2,000 years, a community will try anything – including pretending to convert to Islam – to avoid losing everything, says Patrick Cockburn
Black Friday: Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

Britain braced for Black Friday
Bill Cosby's persona goes from America's dad to date-rape drugs

From America's dad to date-rape drugs

Stories of Bill Cosby's alleged sexual assaults may have circulated widely in Hollywood, but they came as a shock to fans, says Rupert Cornwell
Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

As fans flock to see England women's Wembley debut against Germany, the TV presenter on an exciting 'sea change'
Oh come, all ye multi-faithful: The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?

Oh come, all ye multi-faithful

The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?
Dr Charles Heatley: The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

Dr Charles Heatley on joining the NHS volunteers' team bound for Sierra Leone
Flogging vlogging: First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books

Flogging vlogging

First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books
Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show: US channels wage comedy star wars

Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show

US channels wage comedy star wars
When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine? When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible

When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine?

When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible