GLASGOW’S try-scoring hero Stuart Hogg may not have played in yesterday’s 1872 Cup win after suffering a mystery injury just days before the game.
Hogg recovered from being shown a yellow card in the first- half after flying over advertising hoardings at the side of the pitch with Edinburgh winger Tom Brown in an angry exchange.
He also started the game at outside centre but was forced into a move back to his familiar full-back berth after wing Tommy Seymour suffered a head injury.
It was from that position, however, that he superbly tracked the decisive counter-attack in the second-half to latch on to DTH van der Merwe’s chip ahead and score the try that took Glasgow into a 20-16 lead, and a crucial win that lifts them from fifth to third in the RaboDirect PRO12 table.
Head coach Gregor Townsend revealed: “We didn’t want the opposition to find out but he did have an injury earlier in the week. But when he trained on Christmas Eve we knew he could play. It was good to see him playing well. He took a couple of high balls well and to finish off with that try was excellent.”
Townsend watched his side struggle to contain an Edinburgh team burgeoning with new confidence after good recent performances, but he praised his side’s determination not to let the home side get away and to hit back in the final 15 minutes.
“We had not defended that well, and we had not been ambitious or accurate enough in attack,” he added. “But after that we played very well and the bench came on and made a difference. On a pitch like that and with the way Edinburgh play, it really takes it out of you. We never got the opportunity to play outside first or second receiver. Credit to Edinburgh for defending well, but that was great to see; our backs realigning well.
“The way Edinburgh play they put so much effort in that if they are doing that and not getting points on the board, then it is tiring going through 20 phases. It’s tiring defending it but probably more tiring constantly clearing those rucks.
“I actually felt that we got caught up in the emotion of the derby, guys trying to fly up and tackle on their own and, similarly in attack, we were not playing with our heads up, so it took us time to get into a rhythm, but a win gives you a nice boost and feeling over the next few days.”
A key figure in yesterday’s win was stand-off Duncan Weir, who appears to have taken pole position in the race for the No 10 jersey at the Warriors. He kicked all of the side’s points, missing only a conversion, which he revealed owed something to his standing foot slipping on the poor Murrayfield surface.
But he was also the robber who stole the ball from Greig Tonks to turn defence into the attack that ended with Hogg’s try.
“I’m lucky that I did get it,” Weir said afterwards, “because I think I’d get my head taken off by Matt [Taylor, defence coach] if I didn’t. I knew Tonksy was carrying the ball and I managed to come away with it, so I was pretty pleased I managed to rip the ball.
“It was a really hard-fought battle out there and it was always going to be a tight game because Edinburgh are playing with a good bit of confidence and are doing some nice things, but I think it was our belief [that won it]. We are a strongly-knitted team and we stuck together.”
Glasgow head back to Scotstoun for the second leg of the 1872 Cup, where, strangely, they have lost three games in a row – two in the league to Munster and the Dragons and to Cardiff in the Heineken Cup. They have not lost on the road in the RaboDirect PRO12 this season. But Townsend added: “It’s great to go back home. The fact that we’ve not lost a game away this season shows the character in the squad and the belief they have in each other. We had a great record at home up until that defeat to Munster – we had not lost for a year at home – and we have to get that back next week.”
Tommy Seymour and Ruaridh Jackson both suffered head knocks and will be assessed today.
THE SCOTSMAN RUGBY SHOW IN ASSOCIATION WITH GINGER GROUSE