GLASGOW provided their support with a morale-boosting Christmas gift yesterday at Murrayfield as Stuart Hogg emerged from the sin-bin to score a match-winning try in the opening 1872 Cup match.
Scorers: Edinburgh: Try: Fife; Pens: Laidlaw 3; Con: Laidlaw. Glasgow: Try: Hogg; Pens: Weir 5.
Edinburgh started as they had finished recent games, confidently building attacks, strong up front in the set-piece and the breakdown, with flankers Roddy Grant and Cornell du Preez leading figures. But Glasgow were gritty and stuck at it with improving defence and good set-piece work, and as the hosts stuttered – Jack Cuthbert dropping a pass with the line beckoning, and Dougie Fife, Du Preez and David Denton all being denied – Glasgow pounced with 12 minutes left for Hogg to finish off a fine counter-attack try and land the Warriors a first win in three matches.
Glasgow had opened the scoring through a Duncan Weir penalty after just two minutes, as the SRU’s Irish referee Neil Paterson served early notice of his intent to strictly police the rucks. Greig Laidlaw and Weir then traded penalties before we witnessed the game’s opening try with 14 minutes played.
Founded on Edinburgh’s improving handling skills and conviction, the team seized on a loose Glasgow lineout and built phases until attacking into the 22 right where wing Dougie Fife floated neatly behind his back line before pouncing to take Jack Cuthbert’s pass and slide in. Laidlaw duly added the conversion.
With David Denton, the recently re-signed No 8, making several dents in the Glasgow armoury, Edinburgh seemed to have the game’s momentum, but in a derby that is rarely the case for long, and errors combined with the Warriors’ desire to right a listing ship saw the pendulum swing the other way and Weir’s boot duly cut the deficit back to a solitary point in the 21st minute.
Both captains were warned by Paterson to cut out the ruck infringements after Glasgow wasted a good attacking platform by giving away another penalty, but, ironically, flanker Holmes was then shown the yellow card for blatantly tackling Laidlaw off the ball, handing the scrum-half the chance to stretch the home lead with a fine kick from just inside the Glasgow half.
Worse was to come for the visitors as their Scotland winger Tommy Seymour was left prostrate after bouncing back off South African du Preez. He got to his feet, but shakily, and was replaced by Ruaridh Jackson. In the backs reshuffle, Stuart Hogg’s experimental move to 13 came to an end, the versatile performer returning to full-back, Sean Maitland took over from Seymour on the wing and Alex Dunbar moved to outside centre as Jackson entered the fray at inside centre.
A storming maul by the Edinburgh pack, well over 30 metres upfield, yielded another penalty. Greig Tonks, comfortable in his new stand-off role, kicked to touch, then launched the attack with a sublime delayed pass, but another ruck infringement brought the promise to an abrupt halt and let Glasgow clear their lines.
Chris Cusiter was the latest Warrior giving cause for concern after taking a heavy knock, but he played on after treatment. Hogg was not so lucky when he sparked a melee by taking exception to Tom Brown trying to get the ball from him off the far touchline, for a quick lineout, and duly pulled the Edinburgh winger backwards over the hoardings. After a brief stramash, Paterson sent both to the sin-bin, which was harsh, and Glasgow nearly paid when Edinburgh opened up their rocking defence, only for Cuthbert to lose the pass forward just two metres from the line.
Edinburgh already had a penalty coming, and Laidlaw converted to send the home side into the break deservedly 16-9 ahead, and the second half started in frighteningly similar fashion with Edinburgh on the rampage, Fife in a blistering attack down the right, and Glasgow players floundering and in pain.
Jackson was the latest player to suffer a knock-out, being caught in a tackle by his own lock Swinson, while Denton was being squeezed out of a try in the left-hand corner. Glasgow coach Gregor Townsend had named just two backs on his bench, so Jackson was replaced by No 8 Josh Strauss, the South African going into the back row and Ryan Wilson stepping out to inside centre.
The whole game ultimately was then decided on the next series of momentum swings as the game headed into the final quarter. Glasgow rallied initially, their pack leading the way with fine scrummaging and ruck work, strengthened by a series of replacements; Cusiter typifying fine defence with a try-saving tackle on Fife; and Weir rewarding such grit with two more penalties that cut the deficit to 16-15 with 20 minutes remaining.
Edinburgh had another great chance, but flanker Du Preez lost the ball as he reached for the line, courtesy of a Wilson tackle, and then Glasgow produced the match-winning moment. It came from another home attack, Weir sparking it by stripping the ball from opposite number Tonks as he pressed the 22. Edinburgh were caught gunning for the try, and Glasgow stunned them with slick off-loading on the counter.
Roared up the touchline by several thousand Warriors fans, Josh Strauss took ball on and Dunbar injected the vital pace over halfway before giving a good pass out of the tackle to DTH van der Merwe. The left winger saw and grasped the emerging opportunity in a second, chipping ahead for three chasers. Hogg was always the favourite to win the race and the ball bounced up nicely for the sinner-turned-saint to grasp and touch down.
Weir could not convert, leaving the door open for a late Edinburgh reply, but the Warriors’ defence was not going to let that happen, holding on to claim their fourth win in this fixture in the last five encounters.
Edinburgh: J Cuthbert; D Fife, N de Luca, B Atiga, T Brown; G Tonks, G Laidlaw (capt); W Blaauw, R Ford, W Nel, G Gilchrist, O Atkins, C du Preez, R Grant, D Denton. Sub: S Beard for Brown 45mins, M Coman for Grant 59-65, I van der Westhuizen for Atkins 71.
Glasgow: S Maitland; T Seymour, S Hogg, A Dunbar, DTH van der Merwe; D Weir, C Cusiter (capt); R Grant, P MacArthur, J Welsh, T Swinson, T Ryder, R Harley, T Holmes, R Wilson. Subs: J Strauss for Jackson 42, D Hall for MacArthur, M Low for Welsh, both 48, C Fusaro for Holmes, L Nakarawa for Swinson, both 58, H Pyrgos for Cusiter 66, G Reid for Grant 74.
THE SCOTSMAN RUGBY SHOW IN ASSOCIATION WITH GINGER GROUSE