EDINBURGH have not tasted victory in Glasgow since December 2003 and they never seriously looked like breaking that losing streak yesterday afternoon at Scotstoun. There were good individual performances from the visitors but Glasgow proved too strong overall and were never in danger of losing.
Scorers: Glasgow: Tries: Strauss. Cons: Weir. Pens: Weir 3. Edinburgh: Pens: Hidalgo-Clyne, Heathcote.
The home team shaded most of the important battles and they showed some real class to grab the only try of the game late in the first half. On an afternoon when opportunities were always going to be rare, Glasgow converted one of theirs, Edinburgh did not.
The match was a triumph for Warriors’ stand-off Duncan Weir who kicked four from five to claim 11 points and he kept his forward pack going forward. His kicking from hand was streets better than Edinburgh could produce, albeit he had help from inside centre Peter Horne who acts as a second playmaker. The stand-off left the action late in the day, nursing his right arm, but he should be good to go in the second leg if required.
Edinburgh opened the scoring from the boot of Sam Hidalgo-Clyne who popped a penalty over from chipping range in front of the posts after just four minutes of play.
That early advantage was cancelled out on 15 minutes when Glasgow drove a lineout and milked a soft penalty of their own. The tactic was to bear fruit throughout the game for the home side but when Edinburgh tried to do the same they were pinged for obstruction as Glasgow backed off.
Glasgow’s driving maul won another penalty on the half hour mark but instead of taking on a tricky penalty from wide on the right hand side, Weir kicked to touch and Glasgow had the throw at the sidelines five metres from the Edinburgh line.
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That drive was repulsed and Edinburgh earned a penalty at the ensuing scrum to lift the siege but not for long. Greig Tonks missed his touch and a couple of plays later Mike Coman was lured offside at the breakdown for Weir to give Glasgow a three-point lead just six minutes before the break.
Just when it looked like a close game would be decided by penalties, Glasgow decided otherwise with a humdinger of a try immediately before half time.
Weir’s crossfield kick was collected by Sean Lamont without breaking stride and the leggy winger then ran right over his opposite number Tom Brown also without breaking stride. Horne was in support, the link man to Josh Strauss who had a clear run to the line. The game had been nip and tuck but Glasgow’s ten points in six minutes effectively decided the outcome.
Edinburgh needed the first score of the second half and they got it. Tom Heathcote, on for Jack Cuthbert just minutes after the restart, dragged three points back on 52 minutes after Tonks made a couple of incursions into the Glasgow line but that was as much as Edinburgh could muster and normal service was quickly resumed.
Glasgow’s replacement scrum-half Niko Matawalu had what looked like a perfectly good try wiped off by the referee, presumably on the advice of his touch judge, who decreed that the scoring pass from DTH van der Merwe drifted forward, but still the final quarter belonged to the home team.
Weir kicked his third penalty ten minutes from time to restore Glasgow’s ten-point lead but fluffed his firth and final attempt from wide and long on the left.
There is little love lost between these two teams, and sure as night follows day, the first stramash kicked off shortly after the first whistle. Ross Ford and Al Kellock had a pop at each other while Anton Bresler seemed to challenge the remainder of the Glasgow pack. Someone had clearly rattled his cage because he also traded niceties with Strauss after his fellow South African scored.
Edinburgh’s tactic was to use their forwards to bash a hole in the home defence or loft a bomb Stuart Hogg’s way and hope the Glasgow 15 spilled it. He did… but only at the third attempt when Cuthbert put him under pressure.
As the match wore on it was Glasgow’s big men who increasingly had their say, knocking huge holes in the thin red line and pinning Edinburgh back inside their own half.
There were miniature battles within the greater war going on all over the pitch. Edinburgh lock Ben Toolis offered a safe source of lineout ball for his team while Strauss carried tirelessly for the home side. Henry Pyrgos caught Hidalgo-Clyne at one breakdown but only after the Edinburgh scrum-half had almost got away down the blindside early in proceedings.
Edinburgh skipper Coman took contact a little too high and Weir won the turnover. Alasdair Dickinson had Euan Murray going back at one scrum but was penalised at the very next one before turning the tables when Glasgow turned the screw at a five metre scrum.
Edinburgh won some of the smaller skirmishes but Glasgow triumphed on the scoreboard where it matters most.
Glasgow: Hogg; Lamont, Dunbar, Horne, van der Merwe; Weir, Pyrgos (Matawalu 52); Grant (Allan 64), MacArthur, Murray (Welsh 52), Swinson, Kellock (Wilson 60), Wilson (Holmes 62), Harley (Nakawara 57), Strauss.
Edinburgh: Cuthbert (Heathcote 42); Fife, Scott, Strauss (Burleigh 62), Brown (Hart 70); Tonks, Hidalgo-Clyne; Dickinson, Ford (Cochrane 56), Andress (Nel 54), Bresler (McKenzie 52), Toolis, Coman, Grant, Denton (McInally 70).
Referee: George Clancy (IRFU). Attendance: 6,945.
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