Gilchrist calls for continued standards against Castres
Edinburgh Rugby co-captain Grant Gilchrist praised his side’s defensive performance against Saracens on Sunday and has called on his teammates to use that standard as a benchmark heading into Saturday’s vital Heineken Champions Cup clash against Castres at DAM Health Stadium.
“Yeah, I thought that was the best we’ve defended all year,” said Gilchrist.
“Off the back of last week – that wasn’t us, that second half against Munster, so we had to show a reaction, defensively especially, and I thought we did that.
“Our collisions, our defence, was as good as we’ve been, and that’s our flow now. We’ve got to make sure that’s a minimum standard for us.
“I’m disappointed that we made errors at a few lineouts in the second half and that costs you at Champions Cup level – it’s like a Test match. And if one area of the game doesn’t quite go right, it costs you.”
Despite the narrow defeat it North London, it was a quality match-up which saw Edinburgh lead for large parts of the match against a side who had won nine from nine so far this season.
That assured performance came off the back of loss to Munster which Gilchrist labelled as ‘unacceptable’.
“I’m really proud of the boys, but absolutely gutted, because what we put in I felt was enough to win the game.
“They’ve not lost all season [in the league], so we know the size of the challenge and it shows how well we played. But we don’t come to be plucky losers, so we’re gutted.
“We addressed Munster. We had to be a bit uncomfortable watching all of the stuff back, because it was unacceptable. And we just draw a line in the sand under that. We never go back there again.
“Saracens isn’t a one-off for us in terms of performance level. This is how we play.
“I think Munster was the first Edinburgh performance I’ve been part of in the last few years that has been like that. So we never let that happen again.
“But Sunday against Saracens was a lot more like it. Barring a little error here and there at set piece, I thought we were the better side.”
Gilchrist and Edinburgh now gear up for the test of facing Top 14 runners up Castres at DAM Health Stadium this Saturday (17 December, kick-off 1pm) with Heineken Champions Cup rugby returning to the Scottish capital
Gilchrist continued: “We undoubtedly will need to maintain the same levels of Saracens. We’re in the Champions Cup. Every team you play is right up there.
“We just hope for a big crowd on Saturday, and hope that with a performance like that we can really drag the home crowd with us. It would be an awesome win and put us right in the mix, having at least left Saracens with a point.
“Playing Champions Cup rugby is why you play, to play in these big games. We loved the way we fronted up in the physical parts against Saracens, our maul D and defensively at the contact area – those are the things that will matter against big French sides as well.”