Edinburgh head coach Richard Cockerill has the luxury of “managing his squad” for Friday’s Guinness PRO14 clash with Glasgow after a successful return to action.
Cockerill’s side came back from a half-time deficit to seal a 30-15 victory over Warriors on Saturday and book their place in the Guinness PRO14 semi-finals.
Munster’s subsequent 27-25 defeat by Leinster left Edinburgh five points clear in Conference B and with an unassailable lead.
Even if Edinburgh were to collect zero points on Friday and Munster were to draw level with a bonus-point win, their positions in the table would go down to the number of wins, with the Scots already 11-9 ahead of the Irish province.
That ensures Edinburgh will have a home semi-final against Ulster to look forward to on September 4 and means Cockerill can use Friday’s final match of the regular season (against Glasgow) partly as a means of preparing for the knockout stages.
Speaking before the Munster result, Cockerill said he could “manage our squad differently” if a win was not needed on Friday.
He added: “We’ve still only played one game in five months so we need to get our guys match-fit to play knockout rugby.
“The fixture is also important and we want to pay respect to it. It means a lot to us to beat Glasgow, our local rivals, so we’ll put a team out that we think can win.
“If we don’t need to win to make a home semi, we might look after some boys.”
Edinburgh conceded tries from Pete Horne and Adam Hastings in the first half but the game turned around the hour mark and Nic Groom put the capital side back in front with his second try of the match.
Charlie Shiel’s solo try removed all doubt as Edinburgh enjoyed a comfortable final 20 minutes.
Cockerill said: “We did some really good things and some really poor things. But what I’m really happy with is the character of the team to stay in the battle and keep working.
“There was some good impact off the bench. We have to go and review and get better for next week.”
Glasgow’s defeat ended their slim hopes of reaching the last four and head coach Danny Wilson will continue experimenting after handing centre Huw Jones the number 15 jersey.
“I thought there was a lot of really good stuff from Huw, if I’m being brutally honest, but probably one or two errors,” Wilson said after his first game in charge.
“When you’re experimenting with something you’ve got to take a little bit on the chin and now was the time to do that.
“He had some really good moments in the game – he dealt with a lot of high balls, probably missed one, and maybe one kick that should have gone out. I thought on the whole he had a good performance.”
On Friday’s game, Wilson added: “It’s a derby, so we give that the full respect a derby deserves. If there’s supporters in at that game as well, then that’s another reason for us to give it all the respect it deserves.
“At the same time, for me and the coaching group, we’ll get a chance to look at other combinations, maybe. It’s trying to balance that and trying to win a game at the same time.”
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