A NEW year and an unexpected result in the inter-city match as Edinburgh won their first match against their nearest rivals since 2011 and took the 1872 Cup with an aggregate score of 26-24 over the two matches – their first taste of the silverware since 2009.
A double strike from Edinburgh’s flying Dutchman Tim Visser just before the half-time break went a long way to winning this game for Edinburgh. The remainder of their points came from the boot of Sam Hidalgo-Clyne although the scrum-half missed two tricky chances late in the game. Just as they did last weekend, Glasgow upped the ante in the second half with an energetic display but they had left themselves too much to do.
Despite the almost constant drizzle, this was a far better encounter than last weekend’s snorefest at Scotstoun, packed with incident and argument. Dougie Fife almost scored a try in the opening exchanges and there were three good ones over the 80 minutes to cheer a terrific crowd of almost 16,000.
The early signs for the home side were ominous, however. At the very first set scrum which arrived after six minutes, the Edinburgh eight were penalised for dropping the scrum when retreating. The second scrum arrived a few minutes later and the same thing happened with the same consequence, a penalty to Glasgow, only this one was fired between the posts by Glasgow fly-half Finn Russell to open the scoring.
Edinburgh had an opportunity to grab the first try but they fluffed it with almost comical slapstick. After a good lineout drive, Mike Coman made a charge for the line only to be repelled and things went downhill fast. All they needed was fast hands from the fast men but Greig Tonks’ pass to Fife fell to ground and while Edinburgh recovered the ball, they lost 20 metres and then Matt Scott knocked on.
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Eventually Hidalgo-Clyne evened things up on the scoreboard when he converted a penalty on 18 minutes after Glasgow failed to roll away at the breakdown and the same man gave Edinburgh a three-point lead when Dougie Hall was tried and convicted of the exact same crime on 26 minutes.
Edinburgh supporters haven’t had much to shout about in these matches in recent years but they made themselves heard just two minutes later when Visser struck twice in the space of four minutes to stamp his mark on proceedings and give Vern Cotter a timely nudge in the ribs.
Edinburgh won priceless field position when David Denton charged down Niko Matawalu’s clearance kick. Matt Scott looked to have taken the wrong option by cutting back inside but when the ball was recycled the big Dutchman had come off his left wing to pop up on the right to ease past Russell who was caught looking in when the danger was speeding past his outside shoulder.
Just four minutes later Glasgow were on the attack, intent on making amends, but they only made matters worse. Peter Horne threw a long pass and Visser needed no second invitation. The flyer snapped the ball out of the air around the Edinburgh 22 and no-one even got close as he raced to the Glasgow line 75 metres away.
Hidalgo-Clyne’s twin conversions gave Edinburgh a 20-3 lead at the break and a 26-19 advantage in aggregate for the cup but they hadn’t long to enjoy the moment. The second half was just two minutes old when Niko Matawalu reminded everyone why Bath bent over backwards to sign him. The little Fijian broke blind from an attacking lineout and, fast running out of room, he chipped ahead and wrong footed full-back Jack Cuthbert. The referee went upstairs but the Glasgow players were confident enough to return to halfway and they were proved correct.
Matawalu’s Fijian friend Leone Nakawara, on for Al Kellock at half time, threatened almost as much as the scrum-half with a couple of lung-busting runs up the middle of the field. Glasgow tails were up but they were not helped when two lineouts in quick succession went awry. Russell made a clean break but ran straight into Cuthbert with options outside him and Visser, again, did wonderfully well to field a kick and carry the ball over his own line – having the good sense not to ground it. Instead he hoofed downtown to turn defence into attack with one swing of his boot.
Staring at a 12-point deficit Gregor Townsend went to his bench with half an hour left on the clock but two new props only resulted in a scrum penalty for Edinburgh, bang in front of the posts and 45 metres out. It proved a tad too far for Hidalgo-Clyne who also missed another attempt wide on the left although not before the Glasgow coaches hammered on the glass window of their box, complaining about the time he took.
Whatever had happened in the early scrums, Edinburgh now held the whip hand in that department as three scrum penalties in quick succession allowed the home team to peg Glasgow back inside their own 22. Matawalu went for the interception but knocked on and Sean Maitland had a half chance up the right flank but dropped the ball. It was a night to forget for them and one to savour for Edinburgh.
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