Challenge Cup Final- here we come!

What an evening! There’s no doubt we could have made it easier for ourselves, however, we thoroughly deserved that victory.

We’re now just one win from European silverware, and as equally crucial; European Champions Cup qualification for next year.

Where do I start? Everything went well! The pack put in one of the best performances of their season… that turnover at the scrum in the first half was phenomenal and the work that every player put in, both at the breakdown and in defence, was superb. I think the biggest difference between tonight and some of the recent performances was our general aggression and passion- there was a notable improvement in the way we went about the game.

I was particularly impressed by Galarza and Savage on his first start who carried well, making a lot of hard yards, and also made a very notable turnover in the first half. His partner, Tom Savage, thoroughly deserved to be awarded MOM on his birthday, and thus it is a massive positive to have 2 players performing well in a position that we have had a fair few problems with.

Meanwhile, our backs did everything we have been asking them to do. Whilst the back three may take most of the plaudits, I thought Laidlaw and Hook controlled the game with great expertise and their experience shone through. Perhaps the combination I most engaged by was the centre partnership; 36’s excellence in defence and ability to make tough yards, is complimented by Meakes’ pace and flair. The two combine to make quite a dangerous pair, unfortunately it hasn’t clicked every time they’ve played together.

Finally, it was a fantastic relief to see May get his first try in a while. He was part of a back three that functioned really well; I’m never sure what to think when Sharples is selected at 15 but every performance he plays in that position he excels in! Also, it was the best performance I have seen Henry Purdy give in the Cherry & White shirt and on this basis I can’t see any reason why we won’t have a third top quality winger to join May and Sharples as he grows up a bit.

So, in two weeks tonight we will have the biggest game of our season and a defining game in preparation for what we end up doing next season. I see no reason why we can’t beat Edinburgh (what would be the point of us going if we were guaranteed to lose), and so I think we just have to embrace it; let’s make sure it’s a day to remember and that we enjoy the trip just like in 2006!

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Photo’s from @JAHoddy (Twitter)

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