GLASGOW won the 1872 Cup for the fifth time in a row by beating Edinburgh at Scotstoun last night. More importantly, however, they scored five tries to gain a bonus point and now sit proudly in second place in the RaboDirect Pro12.
Scorers: Glasgow: Tries: Murchie 2, Jackson, Bennett, Harley. Cons: Russell 3. Pens: Russell, 2. Edinburgh: Tries: Nel, Scott, Leonardi, Visser. Cons: Laidlaw, 4. Pens: Laidlaw 2.
Referee: M Raynal, France.
Two late tries made the scoreline flattering for Edinburgh but also gave them two bonus points for scoring four tries and being just three points behind the winners at the final whistle.
In front of a new record attendance for a league match in Glasgow, the crowd of 8,855 besting the previous record at Firhill by three, the Warriors should have won much more comfortably, as their forward superiority in particular was marked.
This match was due to have been played on New Year’s Day but was postponed due to a flooded pitch, and with Glasgow carrying a four-point lead from the first leg at Murrayfield and the momentum now very much with them, the Warriors were favourites.
Glasgow head coach Gregor Townsend gave stand-off Finn Russell a start at centre and, for Edinburgh, head coach Alan Solomons had captain Greig Laidlaw back after a six-week break.
Glasgow started brightly, a massive 60-metre clearance to touch by Ruaraidh Jackson putting them into opposition territory, where Edinburgh soon conceded a penalty that allowed Russell to open the scoring.
Edinburgh just could not get out of their half and Glasgow’s first try followed as early as the eighth minute, Peter Murchie crashing over in the corner after a regulation passing move along the backs. Russell missed the difficult conversion but goaled a penalty four minutes later.
Had Glasgow notched a try at that point, the match would have been as good as over, but Edinburgh struck back, prop Willem Nel barging through poor tackling in the corner, Laidlaw converting.
With Jackson in fine form and kicking well from hand, unlike his opposite number Carl Bezuidenhout, Glasgow were gaining territory but crucially not manufacturing chances.
At the other end, however, Edinburgh pounced on a rare opportunity, Andries Strauss sprinting down the wing and only just failing to gain five points as Mark Bennett forced one of his feet into touch. The try was ruled out, but a previous penalty offence had been spotted and Laidlaw notched the three points.
With a single point now separating the teams, Glasgow moved up a gear and, after Bennett ran a lovely angle, Jackson followed up to score in the corner, Russell missing the conversion. Izak van der Westhuizen had tried to take Bennett’s head off during his run to the line, and was yellow carded.
The forward battle to that point had been won by Glasgow, with Jon Welsh, Jonny Gray and Al Kellock doing a hard shift, matched by their back row in the loose, but Laidlaw goaled a penalty after indiscipline by the home side.
Glasgow were handed a major advantage at the start of the second half when Edinburgh flanker Mike Coman was sin-binned for sprawling all over a ruck. Warriors used their extra man immediately, Chris Fusaro rumbling over from a close-range lineout. The TMO disallowed the ‘try’, this time for an obstruction infringement, but the inevitable score was only delayed until the 49th minute, Murchie scything through the line to score his second and Glasgow’s fourth try of the evening, which Russell converted to put the Warriors 30-13 ahead.
That all-important bonus try gained, Glasgow appeared to relax and – after numerous phases had sucked in defenders – Edinburgh’s Matt Scott breenged through and reached out an arm to score, with Laidlaw converting.
On the hour mark, Townsend withdrew several players including captain Kellock and scrum-half Chris Cusiter, and that seemed to upset Glasgow’s rhythm. It was only for a few minutes, though, as replacement Moray Low went over, only for the score to be ruled out for a forward pass.
Glasgow were not to be denied, however. Murchie made yards, fed substitute Richie Vernon and he offloaded to Rob Harley who touched down by the posts, Russell converting to put Glasgow 37-20 ahead.
To their credit, Edinburgh kept trying to attack and, with three minutes to go, Tomas Leonardi bullocked his way over for a try converted by Laidlaw. Tim Visser then sprinted clear to score unchallenged, Edinburgh’s fourth try. It was all too late to affect the result, however, and the trophy went to Glasgow.
Glasgow: P Murchie; S Maitland, M Bennett, F Russell, T Seymour; R Jackson, C Cusiter; R Grant, D Hall, J Welsh, J Gray, A Kellock (capt), R Harley, C Fusaro, J Strauss. Subs: P McArthur, J Yanuyanutawa, M Low, L Nakarawa, R Wilson, N, Matawalu, D Weir, R Vernon.
Edinburgh: J Cuthbert; T Brown, M Scott, A Strauss, T Visser; C Bezuidenhout, G Laidlaw (capt); A Dickinson, R Ford, M Nel, G Gilchrist, I Van Der Westhuizen, M Coman, C Du Preez, D Denton. Subs: J Hilterbrand, W Blaauw, S Bergman, B Toolis, T Leonardi, G Hart P Francis, S Beard.