JP Socino: Ready For A Huge Week


With Christmas and the New Year over, we can reflect in a 2018 finale full of good wins – two in the European Cup against the Newcastle Falcons and, soon after, two in the Guinness PRO14 against our local rivals, the Glasgow Warriors. 

This is the latest column by Argentina and Edinburgh star Juan Pablo Socino, who writes every week for FloRugby.

With these two wins, we take possession, and bragging rights, for the remainder of the season of the 1872 Cup.

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The new year offered an ideal opportunity to get more points and move up in the table of the Conference B. Against us we had the Southern Kings, from South Africa, a team with few wins in recent times which are nonetheless a very physical side in the forwards and livewire backs.

We were obliged to rest some of the Scottish internationals ahead of the Six Nations, which meant rotation. Whilst this offers opportunities within the squad, systems take longer to work.

The goal for the week was to do what we had been doing for the past four wins.

Being able to show consistency at this time of the year is very important, more so as we are a group full of ambitions, moving up in the PRO14, challenging the top.

We knew the game as such would be very physical as with any South African side, with a big pack of forwards and silky backs. From the first minute we had to ensure we dominate the contest and imposed our game plan.

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We were very precise and made good yardage with the ball, generating opportunities and scoring, which led to us going to the break leading 26-0.

The job was not finished as they would come out to try and revert their image, playing every possible ball even from their own half; without being so precise we managed to stop them, keep our in-goal unbeaten, the first time in the season, and win 38-0.

There isn’t time to rest as we are into the European Cup again, facing the big possibility of moving into quarterfinals. We travel to Toulon, one of the toughest places to win away, but we have big chances of moving through to the next stage. The team is highly motivated, understanding what lies ahead.

It will be a huge week that closes when we travel to France on Friday.

We must win to ensure we continue close and potentially have a pool decider with Montpellier, away, the following week.

Pasaron las fiestas y el Año Nuevo; cerramos un 2018 con muy buenos resultados, dos victorias por la Copa Europea ante Newcastle Falcons y enseguida después, dos triunfos por el Guinness Pro14 ante nuestro clásico rival, los Glasgow Warriors – esto hace que tengamos posesión de la tradicional copa zonal 1872, que se disputa entre los dos clubes, hasta la próxima temporada. 

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Arrancamos el 2019 con una gran posibilidad de sumar puntos y prendernos a la lucha en la cima de la Conferencia B. Ante nosotros teníamos a Southern Kings de Sudáfrica, equipo que por más de que no habían conseguido ganar en mucho tiempo, son un equipo muy físico en los forwards y con backs muy peligrosos.

Nosotros nos veíamos en la obligación de descansar a varios internacionales escoceses debido a la llegada del 6 Naciones, por lo cual el plantel iba a rotar. Si viene esto trae oportunidades, también a veces genera imprecisiones por falta de tiempo juntos en cancha. 

El planteo en la semana fue encarar esto de la misma manera que lo hicimos con los últimos cuatro partidos.

Poder demostrar consistencia en esta etapa del año es muy importante, sobre todo por las aspiraciones que tenemos como grupo, avanzar en el Pro14 como así también pelear arriba en el torneo.

En cuanto al partido sabíamos que iba a ser un encuentro muy físico, con la característica de todos los equipos sudafricanos, un pack de forwards con mucho tamaño y batallador en la formaciones fijas pero también unos backs con mucha velocidad y destreza. Esto hizo que desde el minuto uno tengamos que salir a dominar las situaciones de contacto e imponer nuestro sistema de juego.

Los primeros minutos nos vieron muy precisos, dominando en cada situación de tackle, avanzando con la pelota, creando oportunidades y aprovechándolas.

Manteniendo la posesión y capitalizándola en cada chance, nos fuimos al entretiempo 26 a 0 arriba.

Sabíamos que el trabajo no estaba terminado, que ellos iban a salir a tratar de cambiar la imagen, saliendo a jugar desde su propio campo y con el doble de intensidad. Nosotros teníamos que seguir haciendo nuestro juego y no dejar que ellos pudieron sumar en el marcador.

El segundo tiempo vio la posesión de la pelota un poco más compartida; sin la fineza y con imprecisiones, igual pudimos frenar los ataques africanos, mantener el ingoal en cero por primera vez en la temporada y ganar 38 a 0.

No hay descanso y ahora viene nuevamente la Copa Europa y una gran posibilidad como equipo de pasar a cuartos de final. Viajamos a Toulon, probablemente uno de los lugares más difíciles para ganar como visitante, pero tenemos grandes chances de avanzar a las siguientes instancias. El equipo está altamente motivado, pero consciente de lo que se viene.

Es una gran semana que termina con el viaje a Francia el viernes.

Hay que ganar para seguir prendidos a la cima del grupo y potencialmente definir la zona con Montpellier de visitante la semana próxima.

-- JP Socino

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