Edinburgh look to reach European heights against La Rochelle

Edinburgh beat Harlequins at Murrayfield in the group stage
Edinburgh beat Harlequins at Murrayfield in the group stage
European Challenge Cup: Edinburgh v La Rochelle
Venue: Murrayfield Date: Friday, 31 March Kick-off: 20:00 BST
Coverage: Live commentary on BBC Radio Scotland (FM); live scores on BBC Sport website and app

Acting head coach Duncan Hodge hopes Edinburgh can once again raise their game against La Rochelle in Friday's Challenge Cup quarter final.

Edinburgh have struggled in the Pro12 but topped a European group that included Stade Francais and Harlequins.

"Some of our better rugby has been in Europe this season," said Hodge. "I'm not sure we can explain why but we're hoping that form continues.

"We're playing against a top side and we're looking forward to it."

La Rochelle currently lead the Top 14 by 11 points, while Edinburgh sit ninth in the Pro12.

"Our inconsistency in the league has been hugely frustrating and we're all gutted about that," said Hodge, who makes way for Richard Cockerill at the end of the season, having taken over following the departure of Alan Solomons in September.

"It's been a tough last six weeks or so. In that block of five games, there were three at Myreside that we should have won and we didn't. No one is to blame but ourselves."

Edinburgh return to Murrayfield to accommodate a bigger than usual crowd, having moved their home base to Myreside in January.

"This is a place we know well," said Hodge.

"We've got to come out firing from the first minute and get the crowd behind us.

"Of course there's pressure; it's a home quarter final in front of your home fans you don't get games like that very often.

"We are clear on how we want to play, we are clear on the opposition, now we need to go out and execute the plan.

"We need to stay in the moment for 80 minutes, we can't afford to drop off."

Edinburgh hooker Ross Ford
Ford captains Edinburgh on Friday after winning his 107th Scotland cap in the Six Nations

Edinburgh made the Challenge Cup final in 2015, losing to Gloucester.

And captain Ross Ford is targeting a high-tempo approach against the Top 14 leaders.

"We want to be in these sorts of competitions at the business end of the season," said the Scotland hooker.

"It comes back to how we started. We built up momentum off the back of beating Harlequins, which is always a big thing, and that's not happened in the Pro12.

"But we know La Rochelle are an exciting team, who thrive off unstructured play.

"We need to start positively and play at a high pace. When we've played well in this competition, we've held on to the ball for long spells and stretched the opposition."

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