PETER Horne has admitted the controversial decision to chalk-off a second-half Niko Matawalu try due to a forward pass could come back to haunt Glasgow.
Warriors will head east on Friday nursing a vulnerable looking ten-point lead, thanks to their 16-6 victory at Scotstoun, that could easily have been substantially extended had the Fijian’s 66th-minute touchdown not been adjudged by referee George Clancy, no doubt on the advice of his touch judge, to have come from a forward scoring pass by DTH van der Merwe.
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As a result Horne, who had a crucial role in the only legitimate try of the game, scored by Josh Strauss four minutes before the interval, has admitted that Glasgow can take nothing for granted when they head to the capital later this week in a bid to retain the 1872 Cup for the sixth year in succession. “We were gutted the second try wasn’t awarded because that would have given us a commanding position for the return at BT Murrayfield, so there is no way we can take that ten-pont gap lightly,” admitted the Glasgow centre.
Horne continued: “So we know what to expect, it will be another tough game and we will need to make sure we start really well and get fired into them. But Edinburgh did well to slow the game down and make a mess of the breakdown.
“They defended really well and we need to work on that. But I’m sure the boys will be fired up again. It was a really physical game, just as it always is. Edinburgh were fired up and it was a really intense match, but you can expect no less in the 1872 Cup. The important thing is we focus on the fact that there is still a lot of work to be done but it was a good win in the end.”
While this dour but compelling struggle may have been low on flair play, it brutally emphasised the main difference between these two sides, which is that even when they are not playing well and are far from full flow, Glasgow are demonstrating an admirable ability to find a way to win, while at crucial times, in positions of promise, Edinburgh are the architects of their own downfall.
The difference between success and failure may have been agonisingly narrow, but while last week Glasgow found a route back from an apparently hopeless position against Munster, this time, against ancient rivals Edinburgh, they had a modus operandi that allowed them to strangle the attacking intent of the capital side and close out the game comparatively unruffled. It is a nous that sides struggle long and hard to develop.
Yet this annual struggle for domestic supremacy is far from over and Edinburgh head coach Alan Solomons can take some succour from his side’s obdurate approach which clearly got under the skin of their opponents early on.
Indeed when Edinburgh scrum-half Sam Hidalgo-Clyne kicked a penalty after just four minutes of intermittent action, the visitors underlined their intent to end a dismal record in the west of Scotland that had not seen them savour the sweet taste of success for ten years to the very day, when a 25-16 victory was claimed at Hughenden.
A little more than ten minutes later, Duncan Weir, restored to stand-off in favour of Finn Russell, levelled with a penalty of his own after Glasgow drove a line-out with some brutality.
Then, six minutes before the interval, Edinburgh fly-half Greig Tonks crucially missed touch and when moments later Mike Coman was pinged for going offside at the breakdown Weir again proved deadly with the boot to put the Scotstoun men 6-3 in front.
With little to get the sell-out crowd excited, the game’s decisive moment arrived two minutes later when Weir’s finely weighted kick found Sean Lamont rampaging down the right wing and he dump-trucked the hapless Tom Brown, before passing to the supporting Horne who fed Josh Strauss for a try of the highest quality. Weir duly converted with his usual efficiency and put Glasgow 13-3 in front at the break.
While the first period may have ended with an indication the game would stretch after the resumption, it was not to be.
Although Tom Heathcote took Edinburgh back to within a converted try with the first score of the second period, Weir added another penalty for the home side and the main talking point of the remainder of the match was referee Clancy’s dismissal of Matawalu’s try.
Quite how pivotal that will prove to be remains to be seen, but there is no doubt that in the key areas of this first match-up Glasgow held the aces. The Warriors’ line-out, at which restored captain Al Kellock was immense in winning all nine on the Glasgow throw and pilfering one from the crotchety Ross Ford’s supply, was a key factor in Glasgow’s superiority, although both sides’ scrums had their moments.
Yet with Weir, who is a doubt for Friday’s return after a bicep injury, kicking immaculately from hand and the Glasgow backline a constant threat, the feeling persists that with Edinburgh compelled to attack in the second leg, Warriors may have the weapons to inflict greater pain on Solomons’ men.
Meanwhile Glasgow head coach Gregor Townsend is hoping that the extra width and length of BT Murrayfield will help Glasgow bring their off-loading game to bear in the second leg after a full-blooded first leg that failed to catch fire.
He said: “You get an advantage at Murrayfield with a wider and longer pitch and we just have to make sure that we are accurate in attack.
“But I think there is a bit more emotion in the first game and it did open up a bit at the end of each half.
“But whether it opens up more at Murrayfield will depend on the quality of the attack and whether the defences can be put under more pressure.
“So we are very happy that we got the win as it’s four valuable points for league position. But as a group of players and coaches, we know we have to play better no matter who we are up against.
“There were unforced errors and we have to make sure we look after the ball better at BT Murrayfield.”
Glasgow will almost certainly be without Rob Harley for the second leg after he was carried off with a leg injury in the second half.
Scorers: Glasgow: Try: Strauss. Con: Weir. Pens: Weir 3. Edinburgh: Pens: Hidalgo-Clyne 2.
Glasgow: Hogg; S. Lamont, Dunbar, Horne, van der Merwe; Weir, Pyrgos; Grant, MacArthur, Murray, Swinson, Kellock, Wilson, Harley, Strauss. Subs: Matawalu for Pyrgos (53), Allan for Grant (65), Hall for MacArthur (64), Welsh for Murray (54), Nakarawa for Harley (57), Holmes for Wilson (54). Subs not Used: Vernon, Maitland.
Edinburgh: Cuthbert; Fife, Scott, Strauss, Brown; Tonks, Hidalgo-Clyne; Dickinson, Ford, Andress, Bresler, B. Toolis, Coman, Grant, Denton. Subs: Heathcote for Cuthbert (46), W. Nel for Andress (46), McKenzie for Bresler (54), McInally for Grant (49). Subs not Used: Cochrane, Sutherland, Hart, Burleigh.
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